Plans call for funding a 10,500-square-foot student learning center at the museum and create new interactive exhibits, the Gerald R. Ford Foundation said. Online access to a number of the museum's historical documents also is planned along with documents at the Ford presidential library in Ann Arbor.
"The vision of this campaign is to attract students of all ages to the museum and provide online access to the museum's and library's incredible holdings," David Frey, Gerald R. Ford Foundation trustee and campaign co-chair, said in a statement. "This expansion will let individuals explore the Ford Presidency, the lives of Gerald and Betty Ford and a significant number of historical documents associated with the history of our nation."
So far, $10 million already has been secured from trustees and supporters, the late president's son Steve Ford said. Friday's event marked the kickoff of the public portion of the campaign. Fundraising is expected to be completed in spring of 2013 and construction is scheduled to begin at the museum in late 2013.
"The addition of an on-site student learning center will allow teachers to bring full classrooms into the museum to study history, civics and see firsthand the core values mom and dad shared throughout their life," Steve Ford said.
President Gerald Ford died in 2006 and former first lady Betty Ford died in 2011. They lived in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for decades. Their hometown was Grand Rapids. Events also are being planned for next year to commemorate Gerald Ford's birthday; he would have turned 100 in 2013.