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"An American Christmas" at the Ronald Reagan Museum

"An American Christmas" offers a spectacular display as history unfolds in the form of 25 trees displayed.

One of my favorite things to do almost any time of year is to visit the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library—but to visit it during Christmastime is such a beautiful experience. This holiday season we will, once again, drive up to Simi Valley for a lovely weekend of educational and historical enlightenment as we tour "An American Christmas" at the museum.  

We will enjoy 25 beautifully decorated and warmly lit trees representing defining moments in America's road to greatness, from the Revolutionary Era to today. Each tree reflects the life and times of American society and culture of each decade between 1770 and 2010 and beyond, thus tracing the evolution of America. Through the use of lights, ornaments and decorations, each tree becomes its own piece of magnificent art. Also on display will be a collection of beautiful hand-crafted Menorahs that were given to President Reagan while in the White House.

This will be my eighth time visiting the museum...I think.  I'm beginning to lose count.  It will be my son's third time and my husband's fourth time.  Maybe I just need to begin combining all of those and start using vague terms like "multiple times."  This year we have invited another couple—long-time friends who have never been to the museum—so we are excited to show them our family name in the Flight Registry of Air Force One (something you could have easily purchased with a certain donation amount).

We will enjoy a relaxing weekend at the beautiful Grand Vista Hotel Simi Valley where the sports bar and restaurant will no doubt be one of the highlights of my son's trip, while I will opt for a therapeutic swim in the heated pool!

Visiting the museum can take anywhere from three to five hours if you truly want to enjoy the experience. Throughout the year there are rotating exhibits, including An American Christmas, The Cavalry, and others—as well as the permanent exhibits, which include: The Oval Office, a stunning replica of President Reagan's Oval Office with some original furnishings and art; The State Dinner; The Berlin Wall; Air Force One; The Limosine, where Reagan "forgot to duck"; The Theatre Room, which features looping videos of historical moments in Reagan's life and administration as well as famous clips from his movie career; and incredible displays of diplomatic gifts, home at Rancho del Cielo, and gorgeous evening dresses donned by the petite size 2 Nancy Reagan.

The museum is ever-changing to stay fresh and exciting, which is why I love to go back often.  I am excited to see that the newly renovated museum will feature the following interactive and I bet you can guess which one I can't wait to participate in:

  • Act in a movie with Ronald Reagan
  • Deliver President Reagan’s inaugural address on the steps of the U.S. Capitol
  • Set the table for a state dinner
  • Discover President Reagan’s economic policies while playing six interactive games
  • Read the president’s handwritten diary by digitally turning the pages
  • Ride a horse alongside President Reagan at Rancho del Cielo

So, if you have the opportunity to visit the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library, I highly encourage it—and I offer these few museum etiquette tips when visiting any museum:

  • Listen to the docent:  The very first thing upon entering a museum is to give your attention to the docent (fancy name for tour guide). This is your most elementary etiquette characteristic: respect. The docent will proceed to give you the rules to follow when inside the exhibit (most of which are below).
  • Pack lightly: There is no need to lug in a bulky backpack or huge purse that can annoyingly bump into others or heaven forbid, knock over a gorgeous glass item in the gift shop, another amazing part of the museum you won't want to miss.
  • No cameras, unless stipulated by docent in certain areas: Constant flashing by cameras disturbs the tour for others and are usually prohibited in most museums.
  • No food, drink, or gum: Do I really need to say this?  
  • Voice level: Keep your voice level low to moderate so that others may concentrate on their own interpretation of what they are viewing at the time.
  • No touching: Items can be damaged, broken, and/or lose value if tampered with too much. If  items are encased, keep your oily fingers off the glass.  Museums usually have a high standard of impeccable cleanliness and The Reagan Museum is the pinnacle of this standard.
  • Patience: Take your time. Give others a bit of distance. Allow tourists to enjoy the art, artifact, film, etc. without you breathing down their neck and rushing them. Part of the pleasure of visiting a museum is to take the time to interpret a piece, relive a bit of history, and absorb the plethora of information and effort put into the exhibit.
  • Unplug: Turn cell phones to vibrate mode, remove your ear buds, and take a few hours away from the fast life. Teens who like to multi-task by listening to music at the same time they are viewing the exhibit is not a good idea.
  • Thank the docent: Docents take the time to explain different aspects of the exhibit as well as direct the tourists along the way. Be sure to thank them after each effort and upon your departure, thank them again. They are volunteers who love what they do and being appreciated for that is a well-received moment in their day. 

I hope I have inspired you to visit a museum near you, or if you are in the southern California area, you now feel encouraged to visit the The Ronald Reagan Museum, where I am sure you will walk away with increased awareness and education and more than likely, a desire to visit again...and again...and again. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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