Presidential library provides personal look at life of George H.W. Bush

Image 1 of 12

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station captures a full and fascinating life.

Hundreds of photos, documents, and artifacts give us a personal look at the man who served as our 41st president.

“The exhibit starts with this childhood, him growing up, about his parents, his time in school, his maturity as a man,” communications director David Anaya says. “It really envelops how he became who he is today."

In fact, half of the exhibit focuses on President Bush's life before the White House. We learn about his years as one of the youngest Navy pilots during World War II.

“This is the aircraft that President Bush flew while he was in the Navy,” Anaya says. “It was the Avenger Torpedo bomber. He flew many missions. He was actually shot down as well, near the island of Chichijima."

We can also see the first love letters he wrote to Mrs. Bush while he was away.  The couple was married in 1945 while Mr. Bush was home from the war.

As we watch Mr. Bush’s family grow, so does his resume – from businessman to congressman, then UN ambassador and director of central intelligence. There's also special section dedicated to his time as vice president under the Reagan administration.

"They always made it a point to have lunch together,” Anaya says. “They always made it a point to spend time together and they were very good friends in life as well."

Unlike most presidential libraries, this one gives visitors a hands on experience.

In a replica of the Oval Office, you can sit down and take photos.   There's a mock situation room where you can make critical decisions, as President Bush did before the Gulf War in the early 90's.

The museum also features some of the biggest world events that happened under the Bush presidency, like the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

"We have a tendency in this country to forget history, so I think the younger people come here and they're introduced to who George Bush was, because they don't know who he is," museum director Warren Finch says.  

Finch says when the building was dedicated in 1997, many felt there wasn't enough information about the former president.

"He didn't want it to be about him,” Finch says. “He wanted it be about almost everyone else except for him. The problem, the presidential library is about him. So when we re-did the museum 10 years ago, we actually put more George Bush into the museum."

The exhibit later transitions to focus on life after the White House. We see the Bushes as loving grandparents and great grandparents, and learn about the causes that kept them rooted in public service.

"Many people may remember the thousand points of light. He did a lot with cancer research,” Anaya says.

The Presidential Library also includes rotating exhibits. The museum is home to 40 million pages of official documents.

January made 25 years since president George Herbert Walker Bush left office, and this museum will forever serve as memorial and tribute to his impressive political career, his devotion to family and his lifelong public service before, during and after the presidency.

“He was always someone who people looked to and said, he can do the job,” Anaya says. “He's someone who really cares. and I think that's reflective of his life. Somebody who really cares about people, really cares about others, and has actually sacrificed for that.”