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The First Lady's Gallery

On December 22, 1998, the LBJ Library and Museum opened a permanent exhibit about Lady Bird Johnson. The First Lady's Gallery is a portrait of Mrs. Johnson's legacy as a humanitarian, an unofficial diplomat, and a champion of nature. The exhibit 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. Love letters from their courtship and Carol Channing's feathered headdress from her Hello Dolly performance in the White House are just a few of the objects in the gallery. Showcasing her whistlestop campaign for LBJ's 1964 re-election is a re-creation of the caboose platform on the ‘Lady Bird Special.' Also highlighted in the gallery are programs Mrs. Johnson actively promoted as First Lady, such as Head Start, Vista, and the Space program.

The opening of The First Lady's Gallery introduced never-before-seen footage from Johnson family home movies taken by Mrs. Johnson and previously unreleased recordings from her published book, A White House Diary. Another audio-visual highlight is a recording of Mrs. Johnson's and LBJ's love letters read by Kirk Douglas and Helen Hayes. Clips from ‘Life in the White House' feature the fanfare of official state visits, wedding preparations, and the family being served cheeseburgers on a silver platter.

The gallery also addresses Mrs. Johnson's life after the White House and today. Her on-going passion for beautification is well displayed with murals of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Town Lake, both in Austin, Texas. Her original office at the library is an unique part of the gallery. The office is exactly as she used it for over 25 years with its original desk and view of the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin.

The Constitution of the United States does not mention the First Lady. She is elected by one man only. The statute books assign her no duties; and yet, when she gets the job, a podium is there if she cares to use it. I did. --Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson - Graduation from University of Texas

I wanted to teach in what I considered glamorous places like Hawaii and Alaska. But all that never happened because I met Lyndon. --Lady Bird Johnson

Their courtship began over coffee at The Driskill in Austin. Lady Bird had recently graduated from the University of Texas and Lyndon was working as a congressional aide for Congressman Richard Kleberg. It was an eleven-week whirlwind courtship conducted at long distance.

We wrote and he telephoned and we headed toward marriage.  --Lady Bird Johnson

It was the beginning of a remarkable partnership through history

Lady Bird & Lyndon in front of US Capital

The Johnsons in front of US Capital

He is an exciting man to live with, an me that to put all the heart and skill and brains you have into trying to make your government work a little bit better can be a wonderful life for a man--and his wife.  --Lady Bird Johnson

Their adventure led them through almost twelve years in Congress, twelve years in the Senate, the Vice Presidency, the White House unexpectedly and tragically, and finally, in 1964, into the presidency in their own right.

On the National Stage
| The Nation's First Hostess | On the Campaign Trail | Championing the Environment | Carrying Forward the Vision | One Woman's Legacy


Last Updated November 18, 2005