Presidential Libraries

“Libraries offer, for free, the wisdom of the ages – and sages – and, simply put, there’s something for everyone inside.” ~ Laura Bush

On Thursday, April 25th, five U.S. presidents stood together to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum located on 23 acres at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The 226,560 square foot library includes a 14,000 square foot museum centered around the themes: Freedom, responsibility, opportunity, and compassion. It houses 300 million documents, videos, photos, and artifacts and 80 terabytes of electronic records making it the most of any presidential library.

The Museum offers a full-sized Oval Office and Texas Rose Garden and a 360-degree view of the 43,000 gifts received by President and Mrs. Bush from foreign dignitaries and American citizens. In the interactive Decision Points Theater, viewers are offered insight into presidential decision-making, and may choose how they would have handled the major challenges of the Bush presidency. President Obama describes these choices this way, “No matter how much you think you’re ready to assume the office of the president, it’s impossible to understand the nature of the job until it’s yours.”

GWB QuotePerhaps the most significant exhibit is that documenting September 11th.  Among the artifacts is the bullhorn Bush used to talk to workers at Ground Zero. A humbling reminder is the 16.7-foot, 1.85-tons of twisted steel from the Twin Towers. The exhibit is impact steel, which means it was directly struck by one of the hijacked planes.

The contents of all Presidential Libraries belong to the people. The G.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is the 13th such library in the National Archives and Records Administration system. In September, with the addition of the General George Washington Presidential Library in Mount Vernon, there will be 14 such national treasures.

Presidential libraries not only offer a view of presidents and the profound challenges they face, but also offer a rich, diverse look at the events that bind us together as Americans. Visit one of the Presidential Libraries in person or start with a virtual tour of the G.W. Bush library.

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