Louise Bernard will be museum director at the future Obama Presidential Center, the foundation planning the center announced Wednesday.

Bernard, who has a Ph.D. in African-American Studies and American Studies from Yale, has been the director of exhibitions for the New York Public Library.

Earlier she was a member of the project team that developed the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened to great fanfare in the National Mall in September 2016. That museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution. She was on the team while working for Ralph Appelbaum and Associates in New York, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The Obama center will rise in Jackson Park on the South Side. In a break from tradition, former President Barack Obama’s official papers and artifacts will not be housed there but will be digitized and stored elsewhere by the National Archives and Records Administration and made available through loans.

A groundbreaking for the presidential center is expected in 2018, and it is expected to open in 2021. The cost is expected to be at least $500 million.

Earlier this month, Obama and his wife while in Chicago offered the first look at the design of the center, a campus of three buildings highlighted by an eye-catching museum, whose height and splaying walls would make a bold architectural statement.

Calling it a “transformational project for this community,” the former president said he and Michelle Obama envisioned a vibrant setting that would be akin to Millennium Park, a destination for those drawn to the presidential center and the park itself.

“It’s not just a building. It’s not just a park. Hopefully it’s a hub where all of us can see a brighter future for the South Side,” the former president said.

As described, the project is to consist of a museum, housing exhibition space as well as education and meeting rooms; a forum building, which will house an auditorium, restaurant and public garden; and a library building.


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