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The LBJ Library's museum collection, like that of most history museums, is very diverse. Items range in size from coins and stamps to Oval Office furniture. Artwork ranges from a school room drawing to a commissioned painting by a famous artist. Domestic gifts are stored next to items from exotic locales.
The most important part of the collection is items directly connected to the President and the First Lady. These may be personal items such as clothing, but they may also be objects related to official duties and political events. They include awards and honorary doctorates as well as newspapers headlining significant events.
An exchange of gifts is almost always part of the ceremonies during visits from heads of state. These gifts are accepted by the President and First Lady for the government, not for themselves personally. The LBJ Library is the official depository for the head of state gifts given to the Johnsons.
Private individuals provide another source of gifts. These gifts may be an example of the donor's skills and artistry. They are indicative of their time, reflecting popular trends and interests of the 60s. Most were given as a sign of respect or affection for the nation's leader. Not all of these gifts are in the museum collection, but a large representative selection can be found there.
The LBJ Library has enriched the museum collection by collecting artifacts related to the presidency-both the individuals who have held that title and to the office per se. Most of these are important artworks-portrait paintings and sculpture-but there are also ephemeral items and collectibles such as a set of Christmas gift prints given to White House and other staff from 1961 to the present.
There are two large collections at the LBJ Library of special interest. One is a collection of four thousand original editorial cartoons dealing with Lyndon Johnson's political career and the issues that he faced as president. The other is a collection of over ten thousand items of political memorabilia beginning with the inauguration of George Washington and continuing to the present day.
This extensive collection of artifacts is a valuable resource that is being added to every year. However, like most modern museums, the LBJ Library must collect carefully. Part of any museum's mission is to organize, house and preserve the holdings. This requires not only space and staff, but frequently it also requires expensive conservation measures. For these reasons, the LBJ Library does not accept donations of items that duplicate items already in the collection or that do not clearly add an additional dimension to the holdings. Museum staff members respond to potential donation offers on an individual basis. The museum curator, with the advice of the staff, has the final responsibility for collection decisions.
Last Updated June 2007