With all the hoopla surrounding the opening of the George W Bush Library and Museum tomorrow, I can’t help but wonder what is a presidential library exactly? I should already know what a presidential library is. My mother has been to almost all of them. Years ago she took my daughter to visit the two in California, Nixon and Reagan, and is currently making plans to visit the two Bush collections in Texas with me. According to Wikipedia a presidential library is a repository for preserving and making available the papers, records, collections and other historical materials of a former president. Since my mom is interested in pop-culture and history it’s the museum part of the library and museum that attracts her to the sites.
When the George W Bush Library and Museum opens to the public visitors like my mom will tour exhibits framed by four themes: freedom, responsibility, opportunity and compassion. The museum’s permanent exhibits include a full-sized Oval Office, a Texas Rose Garden, and a Decision Points Theater designed to take visitors “inside” the decision-making process and policies developed during the Administration of President George W Bush. The exhibit will also show artifacts from the President’s terms of office and the thousands of gifts given to him and the First Lady during their years in the White House. Among the artifacts and gifts on display is the bullhorn used by the President when speaking from atop the rubble at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 14, 2001 and a hand-woven scarf presented to the First Lady by three women of the Mae La Refugee Camp on the Thai-Burma border when she toured there in 2008.
Putting personal views aside I am looking forward to visiting the George W Bush Library and Museum with my mom.The aim of the museum is “to inform, to stimulate discussion, and to encourage engagement.” Given the mood of the times that is a very good aim indeed.