THE GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM

01/24/2016
EDUCATIONAL TRAVEL
Alan Lowe

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas, opened its doors to the public on May 1, 2013. Since then, nearly one million visitors have toured the museum exhibits, including tens of thousands of students, and many have started using the vast archival and educational resources of the library as well.

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Started by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Presidential library system now is comprised of 13 libraries around the nation, all overseen by the National Archives. Though they are each unique, all of the libraries are committed to preserving and providing information, and serving as educational resources for the nation. Educational work is central to the mission, and great pride is taken in being a resource for teachers and students. There are two exciting ways to connect with the library.

 

First, we encourage you to bring students to the library. Our interactive permanent and special exhibits help bring alive a tremendously consequential time in our nation’s history, and highlight the actions and principles of the Bush Administration. Dallas is an exciting city to visit with many things to do, so consider bringing a group of students to Dallas and, while here, please visit the Bush Library.

 

Second, we are excited about an interactive educational simulation we are creating in partnership with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum called the Situation Room Experience. During the Bush administration, those spaces in the White House called the Situation Room were renovated. Two of the old rooms, complete with the original furniture, were given to the Bush Library. We in turn gave the Command Room to the Reagan Library, while we retained the historic Conference Room.

Working together, the Reagan and Bush Libraries are creating a simulation that uses the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981 as a historical analogue. The simulation does not try to recreate the specific actions of participants in 1981, nor does it argue the merits of their actions. Instead, it uses as a starting point many of the challenges facing those in the White House and in the press in 1981, and creates a fictional event that requires students to work together to address the crisis. To do this, students will be assigned roles, such as the Secretary of Defense, and given conflicting information. They then have to make decisions and resolve the crisis, working together and honing their critical thinking abilities. This simulation can either be stand-alone, or the two institutions can conduct the simulation together via technology. In the future, we hope to create even more simulations and find ways to connect with schools and other institutions around the nation and the world, including having a web-based activity. We certainly would like to connect with your schools in the future as we create these simulations. The initial scenario that we are creating with the Reagan Library should be completed in 2016.

As director of the library, I want to encourage you to visit us, and I thank you for your commitment to education. We share that commitment and want to work with you on the most important job there is: educating the next generation.

Visit www.georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu for more information.
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