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I Like Ike, But Not Enough to Visit His Museum

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library ranks first in annual visitors. Photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library.

The National Archives spends almost $100 million each year maintaining presidential libraries for former commanders-in-chief from Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton. The one exception? Richard Nixon, whose library is privately maintained.

Now President Bush is in talks to locate his library at Southern Methodist University, his wife’s alma mater. While the libraries are a helpful tool for historians and academics, some are also big tourist attractions.

How do the libraries stack up? Here’s a ranking by 2006 tourist attendance:

Ronald Reagan: 440,301

Bill Clinton: 302,151

Lyndon Johnson: 210,473

John F. Kennedy:

George H.W. Bush: 140,674

Harry Truman: 135,316

Franklin Roosevelt: 108,589

Dwight Eisenhower: 69,248

Jimmy Carter: 62,223

Gerald Ford: 58,784

Herbert Hoover: 50,077

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library ranked second in annual visitors. Photo courtesy of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

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