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Pre-visit Packet

Pre-visit Packet

Enter here for curriculum materials based on our Gerald R. Ford exhibits. You will find a brief overview for each of our ten permanent exhibit galleries, classroom and gallery activities, and a variety of additional information including a biographical sketch of Gerald R. Ford, bibliography for students, primary source analysis worksheets, and more.

Choose a link to explore more about the gallery and see sample activities.

The 1970s (Open Gallery)

The turbulent 1970s come to life in this multi-media exhibit.  Visitors experience the sights and sounds of a time when our country was rocked by scandal, protest, and violence.  This was the America that Gerald R. Ford faced upon becoming the 38th President of the United States.  Bell-bottom jeans, love beads, eight-track tapes, and the Pet Rock are just a few of the objects on display. Read more ...

Constitution in Crisis

The Watergate Scandal forced President Richard Nixon to resign, opening the way for Gerald R. Ford to assume our nation’s highest office.  The exhibit contains some of the original tools used by the burglars in the Watergate break-in, a tape recorder from Nixon’s Oval Office, and a six-minute video tracing the history of the scandal that forced Nixon to resign in disgrace. Read more ...

Who is Gerald R. Ford?

The early life and career of Gerald Ford are the focus in this gallery including his humble beginnings, his achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, his athletic skills on the football field, his law degree from Yale, and his 25 years as Congressman from Grand Rapids.  Ford’s character and integrity are evident throughout his upbringing and career and this was never better illustrated than when he went through the confirmation hearings before Congress. Read more ...

Gerald R. Ford Becomes President

The trauma of the Watergate Scandal ends with Gerald R. Ford being sworn in as our nation’s 38th President upon the resignation of Richard Nixon.  Yet the nation’s focus on Nixon and Watergate continues as the new president tried to tackle the country’s economic and foreign difficulties.  One month after taking office, President Ford ended the Watergate controversy when he pardoned Nixon for all offenses he committed while in office.  On display is a part of the White House switchboard which was taxed by the numerous calls from the public to voice its outrage over the pardon. Read more ...

At Work in the Oval Office (Open Gallery)

The Oval Office is a symbol of American democracy and power, but for Gerald R. Ford it was very much a working office.  Museum visitors can step into an exact re-creation of this famous room to experience a sound and light show presentation of a typical day in the life of the president.  Descriptions of various artifacts on display provide even more insight into the Oval Office. Read more ...

Leadership in Diplomacy (Open Gallery)

Ford inherited an uneasy foreign policy when he assumed the presidency.  The Cold War and the relations between the Soviet Union and China were unstable, the conflict in the Middle East was still a focus of the world, and our involvement in Vietnam ended as Americans watched as the last troops and refugees were evacuated from Saigon.  On exhibit are an authentic Vietnam-era UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and the actual staircase that sat on top of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon when that city fell to the Communist army of North Vietnam. Read more ...

Life in the White House

All of the social aspects of the White House from elegant gifts from foreign heads of state to audio/visuals of state dinners are part of this insiders’ look into the Executive Mansion.  The popular holographic tour of the White House allows visitors to see the histories of various rooms in the Mansion.  Betty Ford’s battle with breast cancer and her outspoken views offer a rare glimpse into one of our nation’s most influential first ladies. Read more ...

America at 200

The nation’s Bicentennial celebration is highlighted by numerous gifts and tributes to the Grand Experiment we know as the United States.  A printing press used by Ben Franklin in Paris, handicrafts and the official Bicentennial quilt are just a few of the unique items on display. Read more ...

The 1976 Campaign

Step onto the campaign trail as Gerald Ford battled to win the presidency in 1976.  Challenged by Ronald Reagan for the Republican Party’s nomination, Ford faced numerous hurdles including the aftermath of Watergate on his way to securing his party’s nod.  Ford then faced the Washington outsider, Jimmy Carter of Georgia, in the general election.  Ford campaigned with every bit of his strength to cut into a double digit lead held by Carter in the polls.  In the end, Ford lost by a few thousand votes in one of the closest elections in history. Read more ...

Tribute Gallery

When Gerald R. Ford passed away on December 26, 2006, the nation mourned the man from Grand Rapids who had healed our nation during difficult times.  Tributes from people such as Presidents George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush as well as images of the funeral ceremonies are part of a moving compilation in this newest part of the Museum’s permanent exhibits.  The area also includes the numerous awards and tributes given to both President and Mrs. Ford such as the Presidential Medals of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Read more ...