I've now visited all the official Presidential Libraries and Museums, and quite a few of the unofficial ones. This is one of the official ones, meaning it gets support from the federal government.
The building is beautiful, and a real tribute to great architecture and design. If you are in to great design, this is a worthwhile location on that point alone.
There is a video at the opening that is spectacular. It covers all four walls, but is one floor up. One of the guides helped me understand more about the video, and it was so good I watched it several times.
There is also an opening video, which is also good. In fact I watched it twice because it provides a good overview. It's a great starting point.
The primarily covers the Presidency of George W. Bush. It focuses very heavily on his service to the country. The museum follows his book, Decision Points. You can see actual Florida butterfly ballots with hanging chads, some of President Bush's love of baseball, and examples of the first State Dinner, for the President and People of Mexico, to show our common values and hopes. Mrs. Bush's dress is even on display. That was on Wednesday, September 5, 2001. On September 8 Mrs. Bush launched her first National Book Festival.
The next week September 11 hit. There are several displays that have the names of every single person whose life was lost in the attacks. They are not shy about showing President Bush when he was in Florida and first told the news, his responses, and the decisions moving forward from that point.The museum shows everything from the actual bullhorn he used in New York City, to the many letters the White House received from leaders and citizens around the world.
I was moved by the actual American Flag that was flying over the White House on September 11, 2001.
There are quite a few interactive displays of the war in Iraq, virtually all told from the American point of view. The displays are very well done, have fast response times, and are easy to use.
They also mention other issues, such as hurricane Katrina, and there was a whole section on Presidential retreats that was well done. i was also impressed with the information about the work of President and Laura Bush working on AIDS in Africa, and all the work they have done for the people in Africa.
I found the store to be excellent. Some of the Presidential libraries and museums have weak stores. This one had excellent staff, many items that were special to President Bush, and a wide range of books and other articles to help me learn more. There are books from the Bush Institute, even a book titled Treating People Well by two Social Secretaries, one under President Bush and one under President Obama. The staff clearly know how to live the lessons of treating people very well.
I have to give a special positive word to the staff. They were some of the friendliest people I've met in any Presidential museum. They took the time to answer my questions, and showed me many special parts of the museum. It's well worth asking the staff for help, they are great,
I'm giving the museum 4 stars. The quality is outstanding, the
There is a replica of the Oval Office, a White House place setting. One high point for me were displays of list of all the winners of Presidential Medals (Arts, Humanities, Science, Honor, Freedom).
The decision studio was very well done, and allowed the people in the room to have information the President made about several very controversial decisions, and compare their answers to what President Bush actually did.
I spent quite a while in the museum, and could easily return and learn a lot more.
I'm taking off one star because the museum does not provide viewpoints of people who were critical of President Bush at the time. In other words, we are not really getting all sides of the debate, we are getting the perspective of President Bush and his advisors. Virtually all of the Presidential libraries from Reagan forward have this issue heavily emphasizing the perspective of the President and the administration, all the ones prior to Reagan give a broader perspective, back to George Washington (which, for example, spends a lot of time dealing with Washington and slavery). I would live to have seen more from his cabinet and how they interacted with him.
I still don't agree with a lot of what President Bush did, but the museum is not attempting to persuade people like me. It's showing his eight years in office from the perspective of President and Laura Bush, and the administration. It does that extremely well and is well worth the visit.