The George W Bush Presidential Library and Museum is on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. It is near our home so it was a natural that my wife and I visit. It is easy to get to – located between 2 major freeway arteries. We went on December 6, 2015.
We went in with no preconceptions on what we would see except for some holiday decorations that was advertised on the radio.
We parked across the street in the marked parking area. Note that they recommend to bring your ticket inside to prepay for the parking at the same time as you buy your entrance tickets. Parking was $7.00 and the entrance for an adult was $16.00 each. Prices vary a bit for different ages, college students, and military so check the website for more info about pricing.
The building is not very elaborate but still has a simple elegance to it. On the right of the entrance is the Café 43 and on the left is the gift store. You can visit either of these without entering the main building if you so choose. The café is a bit upscale and the gift store is a bit pricey (as most gift shops are).
Upon entering the building you go through a security process similar to that of an airport. Be prepared by not bringing pocket knives, scissors, or lots of spare change (oops on my part). It will make getting in that much easier. Once you get past security you find the ticket counter. There is a beautiful sculpture (see gallery below) that stands out. It is a gorgeous 3D representation of the Presidential Seal.
While the first impulse is to make your way to the exhibit of your choice, make sure you look up before going farther. There is an impressive display above your head. Once we saw it we were so impressed by the view that we watched for several minutes with our neck cranked way back. The large screens have some very interesting moving displays. We had our necks back for several minutes watching the visual displays. They are well worth watching.
Beyond the Freedom Hall are doors leading to the outdoor Courtyard Café. This has a statue of both G. W. Bush and G. W. H. Bush together. There is also a small café off to the left and lots of outdoor seating for use in warmer weather. Being Christmas they had a very large Christmas Tree in the courtyard.
One of the early exhibits upon entering the museum is a mangled piece of steel girder that came from the twin towers. Surrounding this are the names of each individual that lost their life that infamous day (sept 11, 2001). This instantly took me back to that day personally. My mind started replaying all the events of that time – where I was, what was going on, etc. I was staying next to a major airport and I can still remember the eerie silence when the air traffic stopped throughout America.
As you progress you next find the defending freedom section and you are suddenly immersed in history. This area depicts historical events during G. W. Bush’s tenure as president as they relate to the 9/11 attacks. Dates and events race through you as though you are going through a time machine. It is very emotional depending on each person’s perspective of where they were at that time and how it affected their lives.
The highlight of the tour is the Oval Office replica. It is just as it was during his time in office. One of the interesting things about this museum are the people who mingle among the visitors and offer information and background about the sites that you are seeing. While in the oval office we were treated to some interesting facts. Simple things such as how Bush would share treats from the Christmas tree to visitors and how the kitchen staff would struggle to keep up with keeping the tree full.
One of the more interesting displays was that of the decision room. You sit and take part in the decision process that Bush went through before going into the Iraq War. There are several opinions presented to you by various sources (CIA, White House aides, etc.) with their arguments for or against war. No matter what your opinion of the war, you get a perspective on how the decisions are made and what the arguments were on all sides of the issue. It basically tries to put you in the President’s shoes during that moment in history.
G. W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum
George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum
2943 SMU Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75205, USA