Fireworks explode over the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)
Some tickets are still available for Wednesday's public opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Tickets are time-stamped for hour of entry, and the 9 a.m. opening hour has sold out, spokesman John Orrell said Monday. However, some times are still available for those who want to be among the first to tour the 14,000-square-foot exhibit space, which is expected to draw at least 400,000 visitors a year. (Ticket information here.)
The $250-million center houses the library and museum as well as a policy institute and foundation. Inside the museum, exhibits include those famous Florida butterfly ballots and hanging chads and a twisted beam from Tower 2 of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Other highlights include:
--A full-size replica of the Oval Office as it looked when Bush was president. Visitors can create their own photo-op seated at the desk as commander in chief. Recently, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and Bush visited the room and discussed the "influential president" portrait he chose for daily inspiration. Bush explained: "41's portrait [referring to his father, President George H.W. Bush], is in my heart, and I put Lincoln on the wall."
--The 9/11 exhibit gathers artifacts from the events of that day and beyond. From the bullhorn the president used in addressing first responders at the site on Sept. 14, 2001, to the World Trade Center beam to videos and other artifacts, the exhibit packs an emotional punch, Orrell said.
--"Life in the White House" includes the Bush twins talking about growing up in front of the cameras, the family's Scottish terriers Barney and Miss Beazley (and the popular Barney cams), state dinners and other events that underscore what it's like to have the 24/7 job as head of state.
--A display that chronicles the president's work in Africa, especially the $3.3 billion the U.S. committed to fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
--The Decision Points Theater, a nod to the book of the same title written by the president, allows visitors to put themselves in the president's shoes. Four crises are presented -- the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the troop surge, Hurricane Katrina and the financial plunge -- and visitors can make decisions about what they would have done in the situation. Afterword, they can match their decisions with the president's.
The museum has space for visiting exhibitions but none are planned at the moment.
Tickets cost $16 for adults, $13 for seniors 62 years old and older, $14 for children 13 to 17 and $10 for children 5 to 12. Parking across from the center costs $7. Buying tickets online in advance is recommended if you have a particular date and time you want to visit; 50 tickets per hour are reserved for walk-ins.
The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Download a visitor guide here.
Information: George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, (214) 200-4300
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