The LBJ Presidential Library & Museum in Austin is not one of the best of its kind -- it was built before the era when presidential libraries went big-time and devoted more resources to attracting and wowing tourists rather than assisting bookwork scholars.
A large-scale renovation intended to bring the Austin landmark more into line with current museum methods is set to begin this month.
"This is a new day for LBJ," says director Mark Updegrove. "President Johnson insisted that the LBJ Library present an unvarnished look at his presidency, along with the triumphs and turmoil of the times. Now is our opportunity to present this story using 21st-century technology with state-of-the art interactive elements."
The library will remain open during the year-long project, although there will be some off-and-on closures of specific areas.
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SHOW ME HOW
Here's the list of what will be new, including, of course, the inevitable "The Museum Store will double in size."
-- In fifteen interactive locations, visitors will pick up telephones to hear the voice of President Johnson in recorded telephone conversations.
-- Visitors will have access to a hand-held guide featuring a touch screen that makes photos, audio, and videos available to the user.
-- The Museum Store will double in size.
-- The animatronic LBJ - the life-size figure of LBJ who moves and tells tall tales - is getting a new suit of clothes and will be part of an exhibit on LBJ Humor.
-- There will be 3 new theaters showing films on Civil Rights, LBJ's Legacy, and The First Family.
-- New interactive exhibits will include: "The Journey of a Bill" illustrating how a bill is passed in Congress, "Lasting Impact" showing how legislation enacted in the Johnson administration still resonates today, and an exhibit about the Archives, giving the visitor a firsthand look inside the archival boxes, along with a guide to exploring the historical papers.
-- The 10th floor will feature the "First Family in the White House."
-- In the section on the Vietnam War, the visitor will act as an advisor to the President and will participate in 3 key decision points in the War.
And here's the timeline for closings and changes:
REDESIGN TIMELINE: December 2011 - March 2012 Phase I: Lobby, main exhibit floors, and Oval Office remain open. Museum Store will close for renovation. March 2012 - December 2012
Phase II: New Museum Store opens. Main exhibit floors will be closed. Oval Office exhibit will close for a few weeks in December.
December 2012 Grand Opening as part of the celebration of what would have been Lady Bird Johnson's 100th birthday.