First Lady’s Gallery Permanent Exhibit at LBJ Library

Dec 22, 1998

December 22, 1998, Lady Bird Johnson's 86th birthday, marks the opening of a new permanent exhibit at the LBJ Library and Museum about the former First Lady. The First Lady's Gallery is a portrait of Mrs. Johnson's legacy as a humanitarian, an unofficial diplomat, and a major champion of the environmental movement.

The First Lady's Gallery tells the story of Lady Bird Johnson from the time she met Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1934 to her role as First Lady and then onto life after the White House. Through her own words, the story of her life resonates throughout the gallery. White House mementos, personal belongings, and short films add texture to the exhibit. Mrs. Johnson's office in the library is a unique part of the gallery.

The office is exactly as she used it for over 25 years with her original desk and view of the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin, Texas. The First Lady's Gallery is appropriately located next to the replica of LBJ's Oval Office on the 8th floor of the library. Sections in the exhibit portray the various public and private roles she has had.

Beginnings: The gallery begins when Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor meets LBJ in 1934. Their first date was over coffee at the historic Driskill hotel in downtown Austin, Texas, and is portrayed in an original painting commissioned for The First Lady's Gallery. Kirk Douglas and Helen Hayes read love letters in the first of the audio-visuals in the gallery. This section of the gallery also introduces never-before-seen footage from family home movies taken by Mrs. Johnson.

On The National Stage: One of Mrs. Johnson's greatest legacies as First Lady was the programs she promoted --Head Start, VISTA, the National Park Service, and Discover America. She was also very active in promoting the environment though a beautification program, which is the focus of another audio-visual.

The Nation's First Hostess: Carol Channing's feathered headdress from Hello Dolly and a setting of the Johnson White House china represent Mrs. Johnson's role as hostess. Video footage from the White House highlights the fanfare of official state visits, wedding preparations for the Johnson daughters, and informal family dinners. Artifacts in this section will rotate every few months to show the variety of entertainment that performed at the White House and feature different evening gowns worn by Mrs. Johnson.

On the Campaign Trail: During the 1964 re-election Mrs. Johnson began a tradition of candidates wives independently campaigning for their husbands. A re-creation of the caboose platform of the "Lady Bird Special" and various campaign memorabilia reflect her time on the campaign trail.

Championing the Environment: The gallery addresses Mrs. Johnson's life after the White House and today. Her ongoing commitment to the preservation of the environment is shown through murals of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Town Lake, both in Austin, Texas.

Carrying Forward the Vision: Previously unreleased recordings from her published book, A White House Diary, her Congressional Gold Medal presented by President Reagan, and her Medal of Freedom presented by President Ford reflect her continuing dedication to public service after the White House.

One Woman's Legacy: Quotes from presidents, philanthropists, and personal friends reflect the admiration and respect for this former First Lady of the United States.

The First Lady's Gallery is the first permanent exhibit devoted to the ongoing impact of Mrs. Johnson on our local and national heritage. It attempts to illustrate the words of her husband, Lyndon Baines Johnson, "she enriched the lives of all Americans.

For further information about the LBJ Library and Museum, please call (512) 721-0200.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum at 2313 Red River Street, Austin, Texas on the University of Texas campus is easily accessed off I-35. The hours are 9 am to 5 pm daily (closed Christmas day) and admission is free. For more information check out our web site at www.lbjlib.utexas.edu for online exhibits and information on forthcoming temporary exhibits.