SIMI VALLEY — The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation on Monday announced a $20-million fund-raising drive to help pay for new exhibits at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near here and conferences at the library's Center for Public Affairs.
The campaign will try to tap the 40,000 people nationwide who have donated to the 8-year-old foundation and seek funds from corporations and other potential donors.
"This is an endowment that is specially designed to create certain kinds of programs that will be public oriented as much as possible," said Richard Norton Smith, director of the foundation and Center for Public Affairs. "We do not want to create an ivory tower here and I have always believed that it is possible to create programs that combine intellectual substance and popular appeal."
At the former President's request, the campaign will be co-chaired by his wife, Nancy, and Malcolm S. Forbes Jr., head of Forbes Inc.
"I am delighted that Steve and Nancy have accepted this important challenge for the foundation," the former President said in a prepared statement. "It is my hope that the library and museum will examine the past, weigh the present and play an important role in shaping the future."
The foundation raised $60 million to build the 153,000-square-foot library and museum 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles on a hilltop overlooking the city of Simi Valley.
In November, 1991, the foundation turned over most of the library to the National Archives and Records Administration, which is responsible for the storehouse of presidential documents accumulated during Reagan's eight years in the White House. The federal agency also operates the museum and exhibits at the library.
Since its inception, Reagan's private, nonprofit foundation has focused on establishing the library, Smith said. It has been only in the past year or so that the group has looked to the future, he said.
"They wanted to get one chapter behind them in terms of building the building and paying for the building before they could begin the next chapter," Smith said. "Basically, the last year has been spent in a kind of internal debate over what we want to be, what next?"
The foundation has planned special events and conferences in the coming year that Smith said will help establish the library and Center for Public Affairs as a tourist and cultural destination with broad and wide appeal.
On Feb. 28, author and syndicated columnist George Will is scheduled to appear at the library to inaugurate a new speakers series known as "The Reagan Forum."
In April, former Secretary of State George Shultz is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a seminar entitled, "The Perils of Democracy." The program will focus on the transition to democracy in the nations of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.
Smith said other changes planned at the library include a remodeling of the popular "Oval Office" display so visitors can enter the room and hear Reagan's tape-recorded recollections on working in the White House.