41st President's Museum Gets 21st Century Technology

Think back to 1997 and what your means of communication were. The technology has changed quite a bit.

Now, imagine a museum like at the Bush Library trying to communicate history to its visitors. Ten years ago when it opened, President Bush's legacy was presented in a state-of-the-art way.

As part of $8.3 million worth of renovations that will be complete in less than a month, Bush Library officials are bringing the 41st president into the 21st century.

"I think its what people come to expect," Warren Finch, the director of the Bush Library, said, "and it's also very engaging, and you want the museum to be very engaging."

Where there once may have been an interactivity gap when it came to the Bush museum experience, there is now an overflow. For example, the windows in the White House display have computer monitors showing the exact room that window would peer in to. Plus, you can use controls to take a virtual look around that room.

For the kids, there's a computerized chance to take the controls of a World War II-era plane and land it on an aircraft carrier.

Go to the United Nations portion of the museum, and videos will be available with the various major issues that the then-Ambassador Bush dealt with.

Visitors can virtually flip through the photos and files from Vice President Bush's various trips.

You can even take a gander at Barbara Bush's actual calendar, her daily events highlighted at the tap of a touch screen.

"We used to use DVD players. Now, we're using a lot of solid state to run the video. They're a lot more robust. This is one of the reasons we're doing it now is because technology has advanced so far in the last 10 years that it's the time to do it."

Admittedly, a good chunk of the $8.3 million in change put towards the renovations when towards the purchase and installation of the equipment needed to make all of the above possible. However, officials point to the amazing amount of material they've got in their archives, as well as the limited amount of physical space they have to present it.

"It was our philosophy that we had all this great material and we needed to use it," Finch said, "so we built the audio-visual around the great photos and video that we had."

The director is quick to point out that the old steadies of museums -- the touchy-feely exhibits, the captioned pictures, the wall-told tales -- are all very much present in the newly-renovated museum. However, it's an enhanced experience that Finch believes will excite and amazes visitors.

"This museum now is the cutting edge as far as the number of audio-visual exhibits and the way everything is layered," Finch said.


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