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Presidential history exhibit is coming to Charlotte during DNC

“American Presidential Experience” will be uptown

By Celeste Smith
cesmith@charlotteobserver.com

A 30,000-square-foot exhibition recognizing U.S. presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama will be on display in uptown Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention.

The “American Presidential Experience 2012” includes replicas of the Oval Office and Air Force One, Harry Truman’s 1951 limousine, John Kennedy’s personal artifacts, said owner Jim Warlick at Tuesday’s announcement, delivered from a miniature Oval Office set at Trade and Tryon.

“We are literally bringing the Oval Office to you,” Mayor Anthony Foxx said. “I’d like to encourage all Charlotteans to take advantage of this unique and educational opportunity.”

The exhibition will be on the corner of West Third and South Mint Streets from Aug. 31 through Sept. 8. The convention runs Sept. 4-6.

Warlick said the nonpartisan showcase has been a traveling exhibit since 2004. It’s has been at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. National and local media outlets covering conventions have broadcast from the Oval Office replicas, he said.

Replicas of First Ladies’ gowns, presidential chairs, interactive displays, and a collection from the American Political Items Collectors Association featuring all the presidents are included in the showcase. Charlotte visitors can also visit the C-SPAN campaign bus, which will be parked at the exhibit.

Warlick owns the private, for-profit exhibition, and is leasing the future baseball stadium land from the Charlotte Knights to set up the showcase. Warlick has said the cost of the venture is more than $500,000.

Tickets are $14.95 for adults, $11.95 for teens, senior citizens, military and first responders, $7.95 for children, and free for 6 and under. Family and group rates are available. For more information, go to www.presidentialexperience.com/tickets.

Since the exhibition is near the temporary site for the bus station, CATS riders will be eligible for a limited number of discount coupons worth 30 percent off. Those coupons will be available late August at transit venues, CATS CEO Carolyn Flowers said.

Warlick said Tuesday that vendors are eligible to buy space at the exhibition for fees of $3,500 for profit-making ventures, and $2,500 for nonprofits. Those fees are lower than the $5,000 cost for all vendors announced earlier.

Convention organizers are also providing space for vendors at a reserved parking lot near the Gantt Center, between South Tryon and College streets. Prices for space there range from $2,300 to $3,000 for Sept. 3-7 for retail vendors, and $4,500 to $7,000 for food vendors.

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