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George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
A close view of the statues, both are larger than life and perhaps around 8 or 9 feet tall. 6.17 Texas ratingStar
George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum guyonthego

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is located on 23 acres on the Southern Methodist University Campus (SMU) in Dallas. The 200,000 square foot facility contains records, exhibits, research areas and offices related to Bush’s two terms in office as the 43rd President of the United States. In addition to the 14,000 square foot museum, there is a moderately upscale restaurant called Café 43, a gift shop, and also a small park out back with short paths.

A handful of universities in Texas competed for the Bush library beginning around 2005. The group eventually was narrowed down to SMU and Baylor University in Waco, Texas. SMU was a favorable choice because it is in a large urban area and had acquired land for the facility. It was awarded the library in 2008. Construction began in 2010 and was completed in 2013.

There were only a few interesting exhibits at the library: a section on 9/11, a replica Oval Office/rose garden, and a theatre in which people vote regarding Bush's decisions about key events. The 9/11 displays were the most impressive overall, certainly the most moving, and portrayed Bush most favorably. The Oval Office was fully accessible. Visitors could even sit at Bush's desk and have their picture taken by a staff person. Library shortcomings included skimpy or skewed coverage of a number of domestic and international events, such as unfinished wars overseas and the financial crisis in 2008. Also, the lack of a presidential limousine, helicopter or equivalent type of equipment was disappointing. Seeing the trappings of power is one of the appeals of a presidential library. Gifts from foreign dignitaries also were limited. The building was architecturally unremarkable, and, relative to other presidential libraries, the display space seemed modest. A temporary exhibit of Bush's paintings of and comments about world leaders was the type of insightful information this place could have used more of. The library was about average. It can work if you want to do something in town and are into politics, but other attractions like the Sixth Floor Museum are more impressive.

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May 2019
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