Last summer, my family had the opportunity to visit the Carter Presidential Library And Museum. It was such an educational tour that we are now hoping to visit more of our Presidential Libraries spread across the country. Recently my aunt and uncle were visiting in Dallas, Texas and took the time to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, located on the SMU Campus in Dallas, TX.
I invited her to share about their tour and tell us some of the highlights and things to look for if you are in the Dallas area. Welcome Karen!
A Visit to George W Bush Presidential Library
Our visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum was a very informative, educational, and inspirational morning. My husband Randy and I found a lot of on-going construction throughout Dallas/Ft. Worth, so even with the GPS and I-Pad google maps, it was a bit of a challenge driving to the museum.
It was an overcast, chilly February morning, so instead of enjoying the view in the “Freedom Plaza” in the front of the building we went straight to the entrance and through the security check. I think it would have been a lovely place to linger outside on a bright sunny, warm day. A modest fountain sits in the front of the u-shaped building, with several benches for relaxing and people-watching.
After going through security, we were in the large Freedom Hall room. We went to the Admission Desk and exchanged our e-tickets for a “43” sticker and tickets that allowed us access to the Museum Exhibits Gallery.
Also at the Admission Desk, we checked out a hand-held iPod (no charge, they hold your driver’s license ☺). You can take pictures with the iPod, and they will send your pictures to your e-mail address. There is audio on the iPod for each section of the museum, narrated by Karen Hughes, who was an advisor, counselor, and friend to President Bush. (If you want to read an intriguing book by Karen Hughes, check out 10 Minutes from Normal.)
Surrounding the admission desk in Freedom Hall, there were beautiful glass enclosed areas displaying many of the gifts from various countries and dignitaries to the Bush’s during his presidency. We saw magnificent workmanship in pieces of gold, silver and precious stones in jewelry and artifacts. Approaching the entrance of the exhibit gallery, we were told to look up, and we saw the most awesome 7-minute surround-video on the 4 walls above the doors and windows. This video was so fascinating, we watched it again prior to leaving the museum. It looked like the people in the video were standing, dancing, marching, somersaulting, and walking on the very ledge on the walls above our heads. These depictions made you proud of the people of our country, and awed by technology.
Upon entering the Museum Exhibit Gallery, we were busy reading, looking, touching, choking back tears, and smiling at the wonderful displays. There was a large piece (maybe 15 ft. tall) of a rusty, twisted metal beam from the World Trade Center building. The bullhorn that President Bush used to encourage the nation and the people at ground zero was on display. There were several 3-5 minute videos (with seating) throughout the museum. We were told that one could “do the museum” in about 90 minutes. It took us about 2 ½ hours reading and looking, and occasionally waiting our turn to see some of the displays.
One of the rooms you could go in was an interactive room. Each person sits at a situation desk. On the large screen on the desk, you select one of the many things that are daily thrown at the President in a minute-to-minute decision that he must make for national security, etc. Each person in this room rates the statements from government and private officials as quickly as possible, trying to make the best decision on the facts presented. This was very eye-opening to the immediate decisions the President must make on a daily basis.
The museum is very child-friendly, too. There were several displays that children would enjoy – including watching a romp on the white-house grounds with Bush dogs Barney and Millie. If style is your thing, there are several of Laura Bush’s dresses on display.
Most interesting to me were the many quotes of President Bush that gave hope and lifted spirits of Americans, and reflected his deep faith in the Almighty, not only through the 9/11 nightmare, but also throughout his presidency. The Bible he kept on his desk, and read every day was in a display case. There were many of his speeches (with his hand-written changes) displayed in cases, too. I especially liked this quote that was imprinted on one of the walls: “Government can hand out money, but government cannot put hope in our hearts or a sense of purpose in our lives … Only faith can do that.”
A special treat was a visit to the “Oval Office,” where everything has been reproduced exactly as it was when President Bush lived in the White House, including the rug with the beautiful gold sunbeams flailing out from the presidential seal. This was a hands-on room, and really neat to watch as children (and adults ) sat behind the desk and had their pictures taken.
The floor-plan of the museum itself is very people friendly. As you travel through each section, you are able to follow the path without having to back-track to see things missed. There are accessible restrooms in the Freedom Hall area, and a Museum/gift store as you exit the building. There is also a restaurant, and a bistro on the campus. Entrance to these is outside the secured area.
Things to Know
- Parking is $7.00.
- I recommend you purchase tickets on-line, due to the high volume of daily visitors.
For information on ticket prices, hours of operation, and parking, visit: http://www.georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu/Visit/Plan-Your-Museum-Visit.aspx
For information about the museum, Click here.
We left the museum with the sense of hope and positivity that Mr. Bush had for our wonderful country.
Have you visited any of the Presidential Libraries? What feature of this museum intrigues you the most?