I admit it, I am a history buff. One of my weaknesses is Presidential Libraries. The addiction started about 20 years ago and has not improved with time. Over the years I’ve visited the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and last week, the Bush 43 – several of these I have visited more than once. Last week we visited the George W. Bush Library in Dallas, Texas, on the campus of Southern Methodist University.
The Library is similar to the other modern Presidential Libraries, but, each Library has the unique feel of the President it honors. The George W. Bush Library and Museum is no different in this regard, it is well done, but modest. The focus is on the President Bush’s two terms in office and the challenges he faced, there is little about time in business or as the Governor of Texas.
The museum has a large section on the events of 9/11, the most pivotal day in the Bush Presidency. The events of the day dealt with in a respectful manner, yet even 12 years later, the videos, the display of twisted beams from the World Trade Center and the bullhorn used by President Bush, will bring an emotional response. The exhibits remind us of the shock of the day and the rally by the nation to recover and move forward.
The video clip of President Bush throwing out the opening pitch of the World Series is a reminder that each of us faced a struggle to move forward, yet the determination of the American people pushed us forward. On display is a video clip of the event and the FDNY Job Shirt he wore along with the baseball used. The video interview has President Bush telling how worried he was about not making it across home plate.
The exhibits move forward with the War on Terror and the military campaigns that follow. There are interactive displays to help cover this topic. As with most Presidential Libraries, a full-scale Oval Office is part of the experience. It is a reminder that the Oval Office isn’t as big as it seems in photos or on TV.
One interesting exhibit area the Decision Points Theater, a chance to face one of four challenges President Bush faced. The visitors sit at computer monitors and decide as a group which issue to take on – examples include Hurricane Katrina or the Financial Crisis. The experience is group participation and timed, with conflicting advice being given. The group then decides the best course of action and then President Bush’s decision is provided. The experience is a chance to take in conflicting advice and to see how you would handle it.
I would plan on about two and a half hours to take in the exhibits and read the displays. The setting on campus is nice, there is a coffee shop in the courtyard, but, you are not allowed to bring your coffee back into the library – you will be stopped 😉 With the recent opening, the George W. Bush Library is busy on the weekends, plan to arrive when it opens and you will have no problem getting in. If you are in Dallas, this is well worth the visit.
– For more about our Texas trip, check back soon, or subscribe to the blog via the box on the right column