Barack Obama Presidential Center sees opening date delayed until 2026

 March 10, 2024

In a development sure to sadden Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, the opening of the presidential center bearing the former president's name has been delayed until 2026, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The news represents a setback for the massive project in the city's Jackson Park area, given that the facility was previously slated to debut toward the end of 2025.

Jarrett breaks the news

The disappointing news for fans of the former president was broken on Friday by Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett.

She informed the Tribune that it remains uncertain whether the 2026 opening date will be in March or perhaps a bit closer to summer.

“Certainly, it is our intention to wait until all of the landscaping is finished and in full bloom and we can showcase the center in its full glory,” Jarrett declared.

Though building construction at the site will be finished by the end of next year, those at the helm of the project prefer to take their time on the interior of the structures, poised to host 30 exhibits and dozens of interactive media attractions.

Detailed displays planned

According to the Tribune, the former president himself traveled to Chicago last week to survey a prototype digital display for the museum, which will reportedly span several floors in the finished museum space.

Speaking about the content of the planned displays, Jarrett said, “We want to get them right,” and she noted that the former president “is very involved in the story we're telling, since it's his story and Mrs. Obama's story and those upon whose shoulders we stand.”

“We want to make sure we give it time and attention,” she added, perhaps a subtle nod to the fact that the facility has, according to the outlet, “set a modern record for the longest time between the end of a president's term in office and completion of their museum.”

Controversial route to completion

Though the expansive, 19-acre campus may be viewed as a fitting tribute to the nation's first Black president, boasting a museum space, a community forum space, a branch of the Chicago Public Library, an athletic center, and more, its creation has not been without significant controversy among those who live nearby.

As the New York Post has noted, longtime residents of the south side neighborhood that will be home to the center have long expressed frustration that they are being displaced by skyrocketing rents and unsustainable costs of living resulting from the project.

One exasperated local explained, “The Obama Center is not being built for Chicago. It's being built for the world... [And the people of the world] don't want us here.”

Another community activist declared, “This is the community that sent him to the White House, and we should be the community that gets to stay and benefit from the presidential center.”

However, it appears that the Obama juggernaut is steaming ahead toward the facility's 2026 opening, and once the initial fanfare dies down, the former president will assuredly return to his lavish residences in Washington and on Martha's Vineyard, leaving angry Chicagoans displaced by the project to fend for themselves.

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