Children & Family

The First Timer's Guide to Visiting George W. Bush Library

What you need to know before you visit the Bush Center.

David C Justin
Posted on Jul 28, 2022

Located on the campus of Southern Methodist University, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum allows visitors to explore the legacy and impact of the 43rd President of the United States.

To prepare you for your first trip to the library and museum, collectively known as the Bush Center, here's what you need to know about the center, exhibits and surrounding grounds.


The Bush Center  

The 207,000-square-foot facility opened in 2013 and features historical documents and artifacts from the Bush presidency, as well as his time as governor of Texas. The center is a complex comprised of the presidential library and museum, the George W. Bush Policy Institute and the offices of the George W. Bush Foundation. It's operated and maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration.


The Library 

The library and museum are enormous repositories of American history in the first decade of the 21st century. Within the library, you'll find the following:

  • 43,000 artifacts, primarily gifts given to the President and First Lady, and other items collected at events and during trips.
  • 70 million pages of textual materials such as letters, reports, statements, speeches and the President's Daily Diary, the official day-to-day record of President Bush's time in the White House.
  • 8 million photographs covering everything from the attacks on 9/11 to tee ball games on the White House Lawn
  • 200 million emails, including all correspondence sent and received by all members of the White House staff.
  • 30,000 audiovisual recordings covering the life of George W. Bush and the eight years of the Bush Presidency.


The Exhibits

A Nation Under Attack – Artifacts, including a 22-foot piece of steel from the World Trade Center and the bullhorn President Bush used to address the crowd at Ground Zero, highlight the memorial to the most devastating terror attack ever unleashed on American soil. The exhibit concludes with the War on Terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Interactive displays allow guests to see documents, videos and photographs covering this dark time in history. 

Life in the White House – Learn what life was like behind closed doors for the First Family. See what it took to host a state dinner, retreat to Camp David for some downtime and enjoy the fun-filled adventures of the White House pets, Barney and Miss Beazley.

The Oval Office – Ever wonder what the Oval Office is really like? Now you can see for yourself. This exact replica, in both scale and design, is decorated as it was during the Bush Administration. You can even take a seat behind a reproduction of the Resolute Desk and pretend to sign your own executive orders. 

Freedom Hall – This one-of-a-kind, 360° LED screen is 20 feet tall and blends art, history and entertainment through high-definition multimedia clips. 

Gifts to the President – When a President accepts a gift from a foreign Head of State, it becomes the property of the American people. And President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush received plenty of them, many of which are on prominent display in the museum. 

In addition to these permanent exhibits, special exhibits and events are featured in the center for a limited time.


The Native Texas Park

Surrounding the center is a 15-acre urban park with plants and environments native to Texas. Featuring a one-mile network of trails, you can walk along Blackland Prairie, Post Oak Savannah and Cross Timbers Forest. And each season brings new life to the park, such as bluebonnets in the spring and monarch butterflies in the fall. 


The museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. Tickets must be reserved or purchased in advance. Visit the official George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum website to plan your trip.