The Hermitage will have to close on what was expected to be a day of celebration for Andrew Jackson's 250th birthday. But the museum's CEO says they don't mind shutting down for the expected visit by President Trump on Wednesday, which will be the first by a sitting president in 35 years.
Ronald Reagan made the same pilgrimage to Jackson's home on his birthday in 1982 to lay a wreath on his tomb. In all, Hermitage CEO Howard Kittell says 13 presidents have dropped by. Some came after they were in office. Harry Truman may have visited before being elected president.
If he gets the chance to talk to President Trump, Kittell says he'd say "thank you" for re-hanging Jackson's portrait in the Oval Office and bringing attention to Jackson's legacy, which has grown more controversial in recent years because of how he treated Native Americans. Last year, he was moved to the back of the 20-dollar bill.
"I think I would thank him for bringing Jackson into the news and indirectly, then, bringing attention to the Hermitage," Kittell says. "I think Jackson is getting more publicity and press right now than he has since he was president. Not a day goes by without at least one or more articles about Jackson that pop up in Google alerts."
Kittell says he sees the similarities in the two figures. Both have an outsider status and populist appeal. He figures Jackson would be on board with Trump's effort to shrink the federal government. But Kittell says he wonders what the country's seventh president — the child of immigrants — would say about new border restrictions.