Each year, the President and First Lady select a unique theme to define holidays at the White House. From "Home for the Holidays" to "All Creatures Great and Small," the motif appears in the year's holiday décor, cards and even menu items. White House staff spend countless hours crafting ornaments, garlands and large-scale decorations to adorn the iconic grounds and state floor, delighting the thousands of visitors who will tour the White House or attend holiday parties and programs. And at the season's close, it is all carefully packed away for preservation by the National Archives and Records Administration.
At the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, a skilled exhibit team recreates White House Christmases past under the guidance of museum curator Amy Polley Hamilton. Dozens of hand-crafted figures join archival images, video clips and Mrs. Bush's beautiful holiday gowns in the annual Holidays at the Bush Center exhibit.
This year's exhibit, A Season of Merriment and Melody: Christmas at the White House 2004, celebrates the joyous carols that make the season bright. See pieces from the 2004 White House Christmas décor, including vignettes depicting favorite carols and a Blue Room tree covered with more than 350 miniature, hand-painted instrument ornaments.
"Unpacking the holiday artifacts is such a fun part of the year at the Bush Center; just like opening presents on Christmas morning," said Hamilton. "Holidays at the White House are such an exciting, magical time. We put a great deal of energy into capturing that excitement in our annual holiday exhibits, and we're always looking for interesting, unique ways to bring the exhibit to life."
Step into the White House state floor with large-scale photo murals and experience the décor in much the same way White House guests would have in 2004. And keep an ear open – carols are playing in the background, adding an audio component to the visually stunning display.
The exhibit hall isn't the only space to get the White House holiday treatment. Both of the on-site restaurants – Café 43 and the Courtyard Café – offer frosted holiday cookies all season long, reminiscent of the cookies served at White House holiday parties in 2004. And in the museum store, find the 2016 ornament, featuring a painting by President George W. Bush. The ornament's delicate gold frame calls to mind the ornaments issued each year by the White House Historical Association.
Dawn Fecher, of the Society of Decorative Painters, joined the NARA museum team to unpack the Blue Room Christmas tree ornaments. Fecher painted one of the ornaments, originally displayed in 2004.
Staff at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum decorate the Blue Room Christmas tree with more than 350 miniature, hand-painted instrument ornaments.
Café 43 and the Courtyard Café – the Bush Center's on-site dining options – will offer special holiday cookies all season long. Their designs, including frosted ornaments, are reminiscent of those served at the White House during the 2004 holiday celebrations.
A Season of Merriment and Melody: Christmas at the White House 2004 lets visitors experience first-hand the excitement and magic of the 2004 White House holiday celebrations.