Take a tour of the Bush Center




Posted on April 25, 2013 at 9:10 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 25 at 9:42 PM

UNIVERSITY PARK — The George W. Bush Presidential Center expects to attract 400,000 visitors in its first year, a huge boon to the city and to its home at Southern Methodist University.

Here you will find a very high-tech, interactive museum documenting some of America's darkest years.

Many of those tough decisions were made in the Oval Office, which is recreated in the library. Every detail is the same.

Visitors can walk through the replica and wander around. You can even sit in the president's chair.

That's fine for outsiders, but for Mr. Bush's former chief of staff Josh Bolten, the room is simply too realistic.

"I couldn't bring myself to sit in the president's chair, so I sat in the seat on the sofa where I usually sat as chief of staff," he said. "I was overwhelmed at how right they got it... how they physically captured not just what the place was, but what the spirit was."

The "Oval Office" opens onto the "Rose Garden" — but with Texas plants. Fifteen acres of gardens and parks surround the Bush Center.

A lighter side to the Bush presidency is also on display, including the first lady's gowns.

"It was not that difficult to give up the ball gowns, because I'll probably never wear them again anyway," Laura Bush said. "You know, George is not wild about black tie."

Overall — much like George W. Bush himself — the museum is straightforward, unapologetic, and — its directors hope — fair... documenting a controversial figure through one of America's most difficult decades.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com