“We want this center to be more than a static museum or a source of archival research. It won’t just be a collection of campaign memorabilia or Michelle’s ballgowns, although I know everybody will come see those,” he joked. “It won’t just be an exercise in nostalgia or looking backwards. We want to look forward.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, and several city aldermen were among the few people allowed at the event, which was streamed online to limit crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The presidential center will sit on 19 acres of the 540-acre of Jackson Park, named for the nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson.

It will be unique among presidential libraries. Obama’s presidential papers will be available in digital form. The sprawling campus will include a museum, public library branch, athletic center, test kitchen, and children’s play area.

The initial cost was projected at $500 million, but documents released by the Obama Foundation last month showed it is now roughly $830 million. Funds are being raised through private donations.

Organizers estimate about 750,000 visitors will come to the center each year.

Work on the Obama Presidential Center is expected to take about five years.

Associated Press

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