Our Permanent Collections
In 2016, the Hayes Museum was completely renovated with new exhibit galleries that better tell the story of President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes, the era when they lived, the issues they faced and what was important to them. The renovation coincided with the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums’ centennial.
The galleries use HPLM’s vast artifact collection and historic photos in more engaging ways and include interactive components. The exhibits feature excerpts from the president’s diary, which he kept most of his life, and letters between the couple. Visitors can learn more about the couple’s experiences and thoughts through their own words.
Visitors begin with a gallery on the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia. This gallery sets the stage for the time period when the couple lived and gives context to the issues and new ideas and inventions they saw during the Hayes presidency (1877-1881).
The main level of the museum focuses on President Hayes’ contested election, the issues he faced during the presidency, what life was like in the White House and the couple’s advocacy work after their years in the White House. These galleries include original White House china, costumes worn by the Hayes children, one of Lucy’s dresses, the presidential carriage and more.
The original part of the building, also on the main level, features the impressive rotunda with marble accents, the Presidents Gallery and the Hayes Family Gallery.
The Presidents Gallery focuses on the presidency itself and includes presidential artifacts, some of which President Hayes collected himself. Items of interest include Abraham Lincoln’s slippers and a letter or document from every U.S. president. The Presidents Gallery also features a replica of the Resolute Desk, where visitors can sit and use their smart phones or cameras to take a picture. The original Resolute Desk was given to President Hayes by Queen Victoria of Great Britain and remains in the Oval Office of the White House.
The Hayes Family Gallery includes two large dollhouses that belonged to Fanny Hayes, the president and first lady’s only daughter. It features a family tree and interactive video of Hayes family memories.
The lower level focuses on the early years of Rutherford and Lucy Hayes. It includes a Civil War diorama that features both Rutherford and Lucy. He rose to the rank of general during the war, and she often visited him in the camps and tended to wounded soldiers. Artifacts include her wedding gown, which she made, Civil War items and items that belonged to the family. This area also features a section on the history of Fremont, Ohio, where Spiegel Grove is located.