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Sidebar two – Lady Bird Legacy

March 5, 2013

Sidebar two – Lady Bird Legacy

Seeing LBJ the High Tech Way

A $10 million renovation has given the LBJ Presidential Library a new, 21st century look with three floors of high-tech, interactive exhibits that bring alive as never before the political and personal lives of LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson.

On entering the remodeled museum visitors can download an app or chose from five hand-held guides. One is a multi-media tour, including reflections from Lady Bird.

Inside the museum state-of-the-art exhibits invite you to pick up hand-held telephones and listen to selected clips from some 643 hours of President Johnson’s private telephone conversations, something no other presidential library offers.

Other exhibits invite you to take part in polls and surveys, hear history lessons, learn step by step how laws are passed and engage in ongoing conversations with the library and with social media sites. In the Great Hall, where the library’s archives are seen in all their bright red covers, you can use a touch screen to access archive materials on any given subject.

The renovated library puts more emphasis than before on LBJ’s Great Society and anti-poverty programs.  “One of our major goals is to reach new generations,” said Anne Wheeler, director of communications. “So many people under the age of 30 don’t understand how laws passed during the Johnson administration-–like voting rights, Medicare, Medicaid, student grants and so much more—still impact them today. We hope to tell the story through this new technology so they can make informed decisions.”

LBJ’s role in the controversial Vietnam Was is still covered thoroughly and impartially. In one interactive exhibit visitors can read memos to LBJ from top advisers and hear his telephone conversations about the long, unpopular war with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and with Lady Bird.

The remodeled library was opened to the public on Dec. 22, 2012, the centennial of Lady Bird Johnson’s birth. The timing recognized Lady Bird’s vital role in the Johnson presidency and in the growth of his library.


Another on-going annual tribute—the $25,000 Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award– recognizes the former first lady’s commitment to conservation and the environment.  Established in 1992 by the LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees, the award is also sponsored by the LBJ Library, the Wildflower Center and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. It recognizes efforts of individuals, corporations and non-profit organizations to improve, preserve and restore the natural world in a manner “that embraces Mrs. Johnson’s style, energy and commitment to her work.”

The $25,000 will go this year to an individual at ceremonies in Washington, D.C. in April, 2014. Nominations opened Feb. 19 and will be accepted until May 31, 2013. They should be made online to:

The LBJ library is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Christmas.

Gwen Gibson

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