In continuing my visits to presidential libraries, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, located in College Station on the Texas A&M campus, was my last Texas stop.
We spent a night in Bryan so we could get an early start at the museum. Even though we visited on a weekend, the museum was not crowded. Upon entering, visitors walk through an impressive rotunda to the actual exhibits. From the very start of the exhibits, President Bush’s love of family is evident. The first exhibits highlight his parents, Prescott and Dorothy Bush. His father’s service to the United States inspired H.W. in his career.
That children were important to the Bushes is evident throughout the museum. Upon entering the museum, children are given a clipboard with scavenger hunt questions. To find the answers, they open Millie’s (Remember their dog?) mailboxes throughout the museum. The tribute to Barbara Bush is highlighted with a room filled with children’s books and a playhouse. Children are encouraged to read and play. While they are enjoying the break, parents can relax on comfortable couches to watch a hilarious video of both President and Barbara Bush, with David Letterman and Dana Carvey, as they discuss changes in their lives after their son became president.
In general, the large originals and replicas of various items make the museum compelling. For example, the presidential limousine, complete with all the super spy bells and whistles greets visitors as they enter the exhibit section. The exhibit about Bush’s military service is accompanied by an actual TBM Avenger similar to one that he piloted. Visitors visit Bush’s Camp David office and can take their pictures at his desk in the Oval Office. Replicas of Chinese statues guard the area that highlights Bush’s time as unofficial ambassador to China. In the Situation Room, visitors can sit at the table where U.S. leaders once sat and make decisions about the Gulf War. This exercise is followed by entry into the Gulf War exhibit highlighted by a full-size tank.
The area displaying gifts the Bushes received is tastefully done, but perhaps the most touching gift is located in another part of the museum. The Gate of Kuwait was presented to Bush signifying that the U.S. is family because of the support Bush gave the Kuwait in the Gulf War.
Another touching exhibit is the “Thousand Points of Light” that Bush began to acknowledge and encourage helping others through volunteerism.
The significance of the museum extends outside to sculptures, the lake, and the path to the isolated, wooded burial site of both President and Mrs. Bush. Their graves are in a beautiful, peaceful area that encourages visitors to pause and remember the contributions that both gave to this country.
Have you visited any of these or different presidential libraries and museums? If so, please share which was your favorite and why in the comment section below.