Major Additions Highlight Bush Library Renovations

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Work continues on the $8.3 million renovation and redesign at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. While a few exhibits won't be making their return, museum goers will have a lot more to choose from.

Right now, it's as quiet as...well...a library at George H. W. Bush's Aggieland home. It will hardly be that way by the end of the year if all goes according to plan with the redesign, which will reopen to coincide with the museum's tenth anniversary.

The vast majority of exhibits are getting makeovers, though some like the mock of Air Force One and the "Day in the Life of the President" video won't be returning.

"Seventeen-thousand square feet is the footprint of the museum, and there are lots of great stories to tell," said Brian Blake with the library. "Unfortunately, we evaluated the exhibits and in order to bring some new and exciting ones like the Oval Office, we had to take some things out."

Indeed, America's most famous office will be recreated in the redone Bush museum. Along with that will be three other famous rooms: the situation room where the biggest decisions are made, the press room where the hardest questions are asked, and the dining area for state dinners, where the grandest meals are served.

"These are things that people instantly associate with the presidency, so we wanted to make sure we incorporate them in the new design," Blake said.

The real treasure trove might be in the backrooms right now. Eventually, of course, the 116 scrapbooks from the Bush family will be on display for the general public. The books date back all the way to the 1940s, and some 1,000 photos so far have been scanned in from these family albums, which were put together by Barbara Bush, among others in the family.

Behind the scenes, library and museum employees have been feverishly going through the stacks of the past and future displays, checking and rechecking everything. The words and images on each display are being gone over with a fine-toothed comb.

Besides the new rooms, the big goal has been creating interactive features. Before, there were about a dozen. The new museum will have around 80, with everything from decision making on big questions the president faced, to reading along with the First Lady and a children's book.

"That's what people expect in museums today," said Debbie Carter with the museum. "It's what the children enjoy. It's what the adults enjoy, and it really gets them involved and allows them to make the exhibit as they go along."

"It makes it a much more interactive experience for the visitor, and it makes it a lasting memory that they can take home," added Blake.

It's also what the Bush Library hopes will keep history lovers coming back for more.

Officials with the library say they are still on target for a full reopening of the museum in early November. Right now, you can go to see the White House in Miniature, the 55-foot-long and 20-foot-wide mock of the president's home.