LBJ Library Begins Major Redesign

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum has begun work on a major redesign that will give visitors a contemporary, engaging experience relating to one of the most significant presidents and eras in our country’s history. In the coming year, new exhibits will be installed on the three public exhibit floors of the Library, giving the interior a completely new look and feel.

“This is a new day for LBJ,” says Mark K. Updegrove, LBJ Library Director. “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 last major renovation of the LBJ Library was in 1984. This redesign will take about one year to complete, with a grand opening scheduled for December 2012, in celebration of what would have been Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday.

The LBJ Library will remain open throughout the construction; however, parts of the Library will be closed at times. Visitors are encouraged to check the Library’s website often for updates on construction. On the website,, the public may also sign up for monthly email progress reports which will feature new photos and videos. Public and school tours of the Library will be available until February 28, 2012. Please check the website for the date when tours will resume.

The Library’s Reading Room will remain open for researchers, students, and the public during regular business hours of 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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.

In dedicating the LBJ Library in May 1971, Lyndon Johnson said, “It is all here: the story of our time – – with the bark off… This Library will show the facts…not just the joy and triumphs, but the sorrow and failures, too.” In keeping with President and Mrs. Johnson’s commitment to transparency and objectivity, Library staff and designers have dug deep into the Archives and Museum collections to showcase materials that have never before been seen.

To ensure accuracy, independent interpretation, and impartiality in this complete overhaul of the exhibits, the LBJ Library has consulted, and will continue to consult with, esteemed historians in presenting the history of Lyndon Johnson. Those consultants include Michael Beschloss, Robert Dallek, and Douglas Brinkley, as well as many of those who worked in the Johnson Administration.

Highlights of the Library redesign:
• 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.

The LBJ Library has contracted with Gallagher and Associates of Washington, D. C., to design and oversee construction of this project, which is estimated to cost approximately $10 million. Gallagher and Associates has completed award-winning redesigns of the Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter Presidential Libraries. “The renewal of the LBJ Library is a unique opportunity to underscore the impact and legacy of the Johnson Presidency for current and future generations,” says Patrick Gallagher, Principal of Gallagher and Associates. “Through dynamic storytelling and highly engaging technology and media, visitors will experience LBJ on a personal level and come to understand his deeply emotional commitment to the people he served as 36th President of the United States.”

Renovation of the LBJ Library will be funded by private donations through the
non-profit Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. The Foundation provides funding not available from the federal government to enhance the visiting public’s experience and provides grants for scholars and researchers who come to mine the Library’s vast collections. “This redesign is an exciting new chapter in the evolving story of the LBJ Library as a dynamic, forward-thinking institution,” says Elizabeth Christian, President of the LBJ Foundation. “In exploring the new exhibits, visitors will experience the personal and political lives of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson set against the backdrop of world events at the time. And importantly, the vast and sweeping legislation passed during the Johnson Administration will be given context; visitors will understand how those laws impact all of us today.”

Visit a Museum this Holiday!

Jennifer Garner, the Blanton Museum of Art’s Manager of School and Family Programs, shares how museums play a part in her holiday time with friends and family…

During the holidays we are so often bombarded by messages telling us what the season should be about—shopping for gifts, decorating (and cleaning!) the house, cooking the perfect holiday dinner, and writing cards to every friend and acquaintance, past and present. It often feels like a mad race to get everything done and to make it look effortless, too.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday pressure, and that can take all the fun out of it. At times like this, I try to pause and think about what the holidays mean to me…a getting back to basics approach, if you will.

Ultimately, it means spending time with people I care about. But rather than focusing on all the items on the “to do” list, I prefer that we get out of the house and do something as a family. We get to know each other better through these shared experiences, and for me, that’s the stuff relationships are built on.

A father and daughter enjoying family time in the galleriesnd do something as a family. We get to know each other better through these shared experiences, and for me, that’s the stuff relationships are built on.

It may sound hokey since I work at an art museum, but if given the chance, taking my family to a museum is one of the best holiday outings. At The Blanton, I take them around the galleries and show them artworks that are “my favorites” as if they were good friends of mine that they’ve never met. I might tell them a tidbit or two about the artwork or the artist, but I also like hearing what they think of things.

We end up having some fascinating conversations — conversations that often give me insight into how some visitors might respond to certain artworks in the collection.

Maybe that’s why I like to create family programming for The Blanton. After all, it gives me a chance to set the stage for families to spend time together and have fun, whether through art-making activities, gallery games, or self-guided tours. With that in mind, I always plan Blanton Family Days during the holidays in hopes that, when the dust is settled from all the usual festivities, they will come to the museum and have those great conversations. It’s the best gift I can think to give at the holidays—the magic of really connecting with each other through a work of art.

This year, Blanton Family Days are on December 27 and 28 from 11 AM – 4 PM.

There will be FREE parking in the Brazos Garage December 23 – 31. Park here and visit Austin’s Cultural Campus!

For more information visit The Blanton’s web calendar.

Happy holidays from the Visual Arts Center!

Time is running out to see the Visual Arts Center’s final fall shows!  The VAC’s five current exhibitions include MAKE, an exploration into the lives and work of four, American self-taught artists. Center Space, our student run gallery is showcasing the work of three undergraduates in Looking for a Fight, an exhibition that explores the ultra feminize. In addition to MAKE and Looking for a Fight the VAC proudly presents The Architect’s Garden, The Mobile Archive and Part One: Faculty Exhibition, as the concluding exhibitions for the Fall 2011 semester.

The VAC will reopen January 27th with five brand new exhibitions.  Here is a sneak preview of a few of the VAC’s spring shows! Diana Al-Hadid will be the Spring 2012 Artist-in-Residence. A Syrian born, New York based artist, AL-Hadid will create a site-specific installation in the Vaulted Gallery. Al-Hadid’s giant sculptures often resemble crumbling towers and are made of fiber glass, steel, wood, paint and just about everything else.

Across the Divide will be a group exhibition of Chinese contemporary artists. Organized by Assistant Professor in Studio Art, Beili Liu, the exhibition explores notions of how artistry is affected by dual membership to both western culture and Chinese culture.

The VAC is closing December 18th for the holidays, so before you decorate your Christmas tree come check out our five fabulous exhibitions!