[LBJ Library photo #19DV1_1925 by David Valdez]

LBJ Library Opens New Exhibits After Multi Million Dollar Renovation

Dec 05, 2012

Redesign Gives Visitors New Look at One of America’s Most Significant Presidents

by Anne Wheeler

AUSTIN – On Saturday, December 22, 2012, the LBJ Presidential Library will unveil innovative, state-of-the art exhibits giving visitors a contemporary experience relating to one of the most significant presidents and eras in our country’s history.  Following a massive yearlong renovation, new exhibits have been installed on the three public floors of the Library.  By incorporating the latest technology and interactive elements used in museums today, the Library has a completely new look and feel.

“Our goal is for visitors to better understand this largely misunderstood president,” said Mark K. Updegrove, LBJ Library Director.  “The redesigned Library will provide meaningful context to the vast and sweeping legislation passed during the Johnson Administration and visitors will learn how those laws impact us today.  Exhibits will explore all aspects of Johnson’s presidency, including the Vietnam War.  President Johnson insisted that the LBJ Library present an unvarnished look at his Presidency-- the triumphs and the turmoil. Now we share this story with new generations.”

New features of the LBJ Presidential Library include:

  • A downloadable app and handheld guide which give visitors the choice of several different tours, including a tour in Spanish
  • Unprecedented access to private telephone conversations of the President
  • An interactive Vietnam War exhibit where visitors experience elements of the President’s decision-making process
  • The ability to join the conversation through social media as visitors tour exhibits        
  • An interactive look at how legislation passed under LBJ affects visitors today
  • New theaters and films on President Johnson, civil rights, LBJ’s legacy, and the First Family

The redesign offers visitors a rich cultural and historical destination.  Until now, the LBJ Library has been the only one of the thirteen presidential libraries that has not charged admission.  To sustain this vibrant, evolving institution, the LBJ Library will charge admission for the first time in its 41-year history when the new exhibits open in December.  This decision was made after thoughtful consideration by the LBJ Foundation Board and has the support of the Johnson family.  “The redesign is an exciting new chapter in the history of the LBJ Library as a dynamic, forward-thinking organization,” said Larry Temple, Chairman of the LBJ Foundation.  “President Johnson wanted the Library to use the best technology available, giving visitors a comprehensive, engaging experience. The Board strongly believes he and Mrs. Johnson would approve this decision.”  For details on admission fees and the many free holidays, go to www.lbjlibrary.org.

About the Redesign
Construction began on the renovation of the LBJ Presidential Library in December 2011. The Library will open the new exhibits on December 22, 2012, in honor of Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday. 

The LBJ Library contracted with Gallagher and Associates of Washington, D. C., to design and oversee construction.  Gallagher and Associates has completed many award-winning projects, including redesigns of the Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter Presidential Libraries. 

In keeping with President and Mrs. Johnson’s commitment to transparency and objectivity, the new exhibits will showcase materials from the archives and museum collections that have never before been seen.  To ensure accuracy, independent interpretation, and impartiality in the redesign of the exhibits, the LBJ Library consulted with, and sought the participation of, esteemed historians in presenting the history of Lyndon Johnson. Those include Michael Beschloss, Robert Dallek, Robert Caro, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, as well as many of those who worked in the Johnson Administration.

Renovation of the LBJ Library is funded by private donations through the LBJ Foundation.  Kicking off the capital campaign were lead gifts totaling $1 million from Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb, daughters of President and Mrs. Johnson.  Former Texas Lt. Governor Bill Hobby and Austin civic leader Ann Butler each pledged $1 million to the redesign.  Significant contributions have also been made by Eleanor B. Crook of San Marcos, Texas, Diane Connell of Killeen, Texas, and the J. B. Fuqua Foundation of Atlanta.

“Through these new exhibits, the political and personal lives of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson come alive for visitors,” said Elizabeth Christian, President of the LBJ Foundation.  “They will learn about the decisions President Johnson faced, the impact of his social programs, and his passion for critical issues such as education, civil rights, the environment, health care, and the arts.”

About the LBJ Presidential Library
The LBJ Presidential Library is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Its mission is to preserve and protect the historical materials in the collections of the library and make them readily accessible; to increase public awareness of the American experience through relevant exhibits and educational programs; and to advance the LBJ Library's standing as a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world. 

The Library is open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (except Christmas Day). For more information about the Library, please visit www.lbjlibrary.org.