A Look Inside the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Which Will Be Officially Dedicated Tomorrow (In Case You Hadn’t Heard)

No loyal GOP-er should be without a George W. Bush bobblehead.

There are a number of things that stood out about the new George W. Bush Presidential Center, which will be formally dedicated tomorrow morning: a replica of the President’s Oval Office, W’s baseball collection, Laura Bush’s ball gowns, and Decision Points, an interactive theater that lets visitors second-guess significant Bush decisions.

Names of the victims of 9/11 are inscribed on the walls surrounding this beam from the World Trade Center.

And then there’s the beam: a massive, crumpled reminder of the most significant event during Bush’s presidency, the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Visitors encounter the beam after walking past some biographic galleries and “all the things we thought we’d be working on all four years,” Laura Bush explained to the media this morning. Things like No Child Left Behind, the tax cuts, and community- and faith-based initiatives. “Then you turn the corner and see the big beam from the World Trade Center. Even in the way we tried to lay out the museum, you can see the way our lives changed and the way the lives of everyone in our country changed.”

The former First Lady said the gallery is the most meaningful part of the museum for her personally; her favorite “happy” part is the Oval Office, which has the same orientation as the real deal: “The south sun pours into the big bay window, just like it does in Washington.”

One of several of Laura Bush’s gowns, and W’s custom cowboy boots.

Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Foundation, came up with the Decision Points idea. It focuses on the decision to invade Iraq, the surge in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the financial crisis at the end of Bush’s term. “It will show people what it’s like to have to make decisions quickly, with the press hounding you on when you’re going to decide and what you’re going to do, and also to rely on the information you’re given from every source,” Laura Bush said.

This re-creation of President Bush’s Oval Office features a replica desk that was given to the Bushes by a fan in Ohio.

Other museum features: gifts from world leaders (including a stuffed lion from the President of Tanzania), a collection of pens used by Bush to sign the 12 vetoes he issued during his presidency, and an area dedicated the late First Dog, Barney. There’s also a theater that shows a video of the Bushes talking about their last day in the White House, what it’s like to be back in Dallas, and their goals relating to the policy issues they think are most important (education reform, global health, free enterprise, and human freedom). Says the President: “We don’t want to sit around and write papers; we want to put action plans into place that affect people’s lives.”

Second-guess pivotal Presidential decisions in the "Decision Points" theater.
Second-guess pivotal Presidential decisions in the “Decision Points” theater.

All five living U.S. Presidents are expected to attend tomorrow’s festivities. Langdale said the center is following the same security protocol that has been in place since 2001. Recent events in Boston didn’t change plans, he said: “It will be a secure spot. What Boston reminds us is that the threat of terrorist activities does not diminish over time.”

(left) Freedom Hall, which includes the museum and the archives and records rooms; (top) a striking 360-degree video on the top of the museum’s lobby; (bottom) setting up for the big event tomorrow. (That’s a lot of chairs.)

The 226,000-square-foot Presidential Center sits on 23 acres at Southern Methodist University. The dedication ceremony will start at 10 a.m. Thursday. The lighting of Freedom Hall and a concert will be held tomorrow night.

If you’re on the guest list, get there super early to make it through security in time. If you’re not, you’ll want to avoid the area. Either way, be aware of street closures—some of which take effect tonight.

(Left) A sculpture of 43 and 41 is in a plaza outside the museum’s entrance; (top) a video in one of the museum’s theaters; (bottom) Laura Bush talks to media in the museum’s “Rose Garden.”


  • Glenn

    Great report, Christine!

  • Brendan


  • Stephen Whitley

    Does the “decision points” exhibit let visitors read the August 6, 2001 memo that said Al Queda and Osama Bin Laden were determined to attack America and that they might highjack planes?

  • Glenn

    Not certain. But I’m sure if you go to the Clinton Library, you’ll find detailed info about how his administration blew as many as four chances to off bin Laden in 1998 and 1999, per the 9/11 commission.

    • Skipper

      Agreed, Glenn. And after that, we can visit the Reagan Library where we can read detailed information on St. Ronnie’s pro-mujahideen policies and how US aid directly impacted OBL’s development as a terrorist.

  • Jack Jett

    The last thing we want to happen is for the World to forget that George W. Bush live in Dallas Texas.

  • Gizmette

    to quote Peggy Lee, “Is this all there is?”


    Folks, I would trade misspeak, mispronounciations, and plain folksy attitude any day for what we have now, slick, slimy, lying weak Socialist vs Communist dictator! Under Bush we had capitalism, lower unemployment, military strength, cheaper gas. We didn’t have Boston because we took the fight to them. Economy was on the mend. THERE WAS NO SOCIALIZED MEDICINE THAT WILL IF IMPLEMENTED SINK THIS COUNTRY.

  • Keely Cawley

    Loved the report Christine!!