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THE FIRST LADY'S GALLERY: THE
LEGACY OF LADY BIRD JOHNSON
22, 1998, Lady Bird Johnson's 86th birthday, marks the opening
of a new permanent exhibit at the LBJ Library and Museum about
the former First Lady. The First Lady's Gallery is a portrait
of Mrs. Johnson's legacy as a humanitarian, an unofficial diplomat,
and a major champion of the environmental movement.
The First Lady's Gallery tells the story of Lady Bird Johnson
from the time she met Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1934 to her role
as First Lady and then onto life after the White House. Through
her own words, the story of her life resonates throughout the
gallery. White House mementos, personal belongings, and short
films add texture to the exhibit. Mrs. Johnson's office in the
library is a unique part of the gallery. The office is exactly
as she used it for over 25 years with her original desk and view
of the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin, Texas. The First
Lady's Gallery is appropriately located next to the replica of
LBJ's Oval Office on the 8th floor of the library. Sections in
the exhibit portray the various public and private roles she has
Beginnings: The gallery begins when Claudia "Lady
Bird" Taylor meets LBJ in 1934. Their first date was over
coffee at the historic Driskill hotel in downtown Austin, Texas,
and is portrayed in an original painting commissioned for The
First Lady's Gallery. Kirk Douglas and Helen Hayes read love letters
in the first of the audio-visuals in the gallery. This section
of the gallery also introduces never-before-seen footage from
family home movies taken by Mrs.
On The National Stage: One of Mrs. Johnson's greatest
legacies as First Lady was the programs she promoted --Head Start,
VISTA, the National Park Service, and Discover America. She was
also very active in promoting the environment though a beautification
program, which is the focus of another audio-visual.
The Nation's First Hostess: Carol Channing's feathered
headdress from Hello Dolly and a setting of the Johnson White
House china represent Mrs. Johnson's role as hostess. Video footage
from the White House highlights the fanfare of official state
visits, wedding preparations for the Johnson daughters, and informal
family dinners. Artifacts in this section will rotate every few
months to show the variety of entertainment that performed at
the White House and feature different evening gowns worn by Mrs.
On the Campaign Trail: During the 1964 re-election Mrs.
Johnson began a tradition of candidates wives independently campaigning
for their husbands. A re-creation of the caboose platform of the
"Lady Bird Special" and various campaign memorabilia
reflect her time on the campaign trail.
Championing the Environment: The gallery addresses Mrs.
Johnson's life after the White House and today. Her ongoing commitment
to the preservation of the environment is shown through murals
of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Town Lake, both
in Austin, Texas.
Carrying Forward the Vision: Previously unreleased recordings
from her published book, A White House Diary, her Congressional
Gold Medal presented by President Reagan, and her Medal of Freedom
presented by President Ford reflect her continuing dedication
to public service after the White House.
One Woman's Legacy: Quotes from presidents, philanthropists,
and personal friends reflect the admiration and respect for this
former First Lady of the United States.
The First Lady's Gallery is the first permanent exhibit devoted
to the ongoing impact of Mrs. Johnson on our local and national
heritage. It attempts to illustrate the words of her husband,
Lyndon Baines Johnson, "she enriched the lives of all Americans.
For further information about the LBJ Library and Museum, please
call (512) 478-4829, ext. 297
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and
Museum at 2313 Red River Street, Austin, Texas on the University
of Texas campus is easily accessed off I-35. The hours are 9 am
to 5 pm daily (closed Christmas day) and admission is free. For
more information check out our web site at www.lbjlib.utexas.edu
for online exhibits and information on forthcoming temporary exhibits.