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White House Visitor’s Center

After two years of only taking outside pictures from the gates of the White House, the White House Visitor Center reopened on Sept. 13. The $12.5 million renovation created a more in-depth look at the White House and the many presidents and first ladies who lived there.

“For those who don’t have the opportunity to visit the White House, it still gives you a rich, deeply meaningful interactive education on what the White House is like as a home to the first family, as office to the president and as ceremonial stage for the president and official functions of the government,” said Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association.

For an introduction, a 14-minute film, “The White House: Reflections from Within” sheds light on everyday life in the White House by using voices of past presidents and first ladies, including President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Touchscreen tours, a new souvenir shop and more than 90 artifacts fill the 16,000-square-foot remodeled space.

Many of the artifacts appear to the public for the first time. Groups can now see the desk where President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his iconic fireside chats, as well as the telegraph key the War Department used to communicate with Gen. Ulysses Grant during the Civil War.

Admission is free and hours run from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily (except certain holidays).