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Seeing LBJ the High-Tech Way



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A $10 million renovation has given the LBJ Presidential Library a new 21st-century look, with three floors of high-tech, interactive exhibits that bring to life the political and personal lives of LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson. On entering the remodeled museum, visitors can download an app or chose from five hand-held guides.

One is a multi-media tour, including reflections from Mrs. Johnson. Inside the museum, state-of-the-art exhibits invite you to pick up telephones and listen to clips from some 643 hours of President Johnson’s private conversations, something no other presidential library offers. Other exhibits invite you to take part in polls and surveys, hear history lessons, learn step by step how laws are passed and engage in ongoing conversations with the library and with social-media sites.

In the Great Hall, where the library’s archives are seen in all their bright red covers, visitors can use a touch screen to access archive materials on any given subject. The renovated library puts even more emphasis on LBJ’s Great Society and anti-poverty programs.

“One of our major goals is to reach new generations,” says Anne Wheeler, director of communications. “So many people under the age of 30 don’t understand how laws passed during the Johnson administration like voting rights, Medicare, Medicaid, student grants and so much more still impact them today. We hope to tell the story through this new technology so they can make informed decisions.”

The remodeled library was opened to the public Dec. 22, 2012, the centennial of Lady Bird Johnson’s birth. The timing recognized her vital role in the Johnson presidency and in the growth of his library. An ongoing annual tribute—the $25,000 Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award—recognizes the former first lady’s commitment to the environment.

Established in 1992 by the LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees, the award is also sponsored by the LBJ Library, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. It recognizes efforts of individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations to improve, preserve and restore the natural world in a manner “that embraces Mrs. Johnson’s style, energy and commitment to her work.”

This year, the $25,000 will go to an individual at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., in April 2014. Nominations will be accepted until May 31. They should be made online at lbjlibrary.org/page/foundation/initiatives/lady-bird-environment-award.

Upcoming Events

April 2: An evening with Representative Joaquin Castro and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

April 9: An Evening with Sebastian Junger, screening Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington.

The LBJ library is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Christmas. For more information, visit lbjlibrary.org.

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