Launch - First Look - February 2019


The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum presents three hologram experiences, including Reagan speaking from a recreation of the Oval Office and from a tour stop during the 1984 election campaign (below). (Credit: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum)

Reagan Library and Museum Creates U.S. President Hologram

Although true holograms portrayed in futuristic movies are not yet possible, innovative systems found at attractions continue to advance the role of holographic technology.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, the most-visited presidential library according to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, recently introduced a $1.5 million full holographic recreation of the late former U.S. president. The hologram is the first of its kind found at any of the libraries and museums dedicated to former U.S. presidents. The presentation is housed in the Reagan Library’s Caruso Family Theater, the first gallery guests come to once they enter the museum.

There are three different hologram presentations, showing Reagan on a whistle-stop train tour in the 1984 presidential campaign, in the tack room of his Rancho del Cielo home, and in the Oval Office of the White House. 

“On any given day, we play one of the three holograms,” says Melissa Giller, chief marketing officer for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which is responsible for the hologram’s creation. “They change throughout the week so that on any given day, a visitor might see a different hologram. Each hologram experience is about six minutes in length.”


Hollywood-based Holograms USA worked with DLux Production and Digital Frontier of Japan in creating the hologram. It was a challenging project because visitors are only 12 feet from the image, necessitating it be entirely photorealistic. According to Giller, the creators used an actor to get the hologram’s body movements right, then used CGI to create the face and facial movements. For Reagan’s verbal remarks in the three scenarios, every word was taken from portions of various speeches and audio recordings made by the former president during his life. The editing process took more than a year. 

“This was all very difficult and took a long time,” says Giller. “Usually [audiences] are far away from actual holograms, or else they have something like a microphone in front of their mouth so you can’t see that the voice and lips aren’t truly synced. Our hologram is very close to the visitor, and we have no distracting element in front of the mouth. Digital Frontier took months and months and months to get this right.”

A silicone “lifecast” (three-dimensional mold) of Reagan’s head was created for the project’s CGI phase and was photographed using a technique involving 300 cameras in a dome, shooting the mold from different angles. The head was brought to life through digital manipulation of the president’s face through facial “rigs”—very specific movements directed by a computer.

“We are always looking for ways to keep the Reagan Museum fresh and new and technologically advanced,” says Giller. “Bringing President Reagan back to the museum that bears his name through the use of a hologram seemed like a great way to accomplish all of that.”