But Naftali's point is serious.
"It seemed to me out of place in a publicly funded museum," Naftali added. "I don't think it's the best way to teach history."
Chen said he appreciates the sentiment, but won't be satisfied until the statues are gone.
Naftali said he plans to overhaul the World Leaders exhibit, but how and when haven't been discussed. He is still at work on his first big overhaul, a historically accurate exhibit on the Watergate scandal, which the library's former storytellers saw as a "coup" by Nixon's political enemies.
Mao will always be part of the Nixon library -- "I don't believe in making people disappear," Naftali said -- but his statue may not.
And that doesn't sit well with one constituency: a fair number of the nearly 200 volunteer docents who are witnessing a history endorsed by their hero rewritten before their eyes.
"The most difficult part for us is that Tim's attitude is that this is supposed to be a bipartisan place," said Georgia Mallory, 62, who has guided visitors at the Nixon library for 16 years -- more than 1,850 hours, according to her lapel badge.
"What we're being told is that what we've been doing here is insignificant and wrong, that we've been telling the story incorrectly, that sort of thing," Mallory said. "We told it that way because it was history. . . . We knew it was factual. . . . This is the Richard Nixon library."
Naftali is sensitive to this, to a point.
"You've got to understand: I'm changing a culture here," he said. "There are people who are upset at any changes we make -- small, medium or large -- because they like the way things were.
"For those people who were involved with this place when it was a private institution, this is a chaotic time. I understand that. I respect that. But we have to move forward."
Bill Goetsch, a docent who is old enough to have voted for Nixon as vice president, says the faithful like him are meeting that move forward with trepidation.
"We question, in our own minds, what else is going to happen here," Goetsch said.
Well, since you asked. . . .
When the Watergate overhaul is finished, Naftali plans to tackle new exhibits on Nixon's effect on domestic affairs and his post-presidency.
Other signs of change are found in glass cases where Nixon's perspectives on the Vietnam War and the 1970 killing of four students at Kent State University have been replaced by placards that read "Exhibit Under Renovation."
"You wouldn't have known that the Ohio National Guard killed those students," Naftali said of the Kent State exhibit that was removed. "You could have concluded that they shot themselves."