Exhibits on LBJ's Life and Times

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The museum collection of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum contains more than fifty-four thousand objects donated by the president and Mrs. Johnson, their family, close friends, associates, and the American people. Like that of most history museums, the collection is very diverse and includes objects ranging from Middle Eastern antiquities and coins, to postage stamps and Oval Office furniture. The art collection ranges from drawings by schoolchildren, to masterpieces by such renowned artists as Americans Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and Winslow Homer, and Mexican Diego Rivera.

The core of the museum collection consists of personal objects owned, used, bought, or worn by the president and first lady, all donated by President Johnson under the Presidential Libraries Act (1955). These objects include the clothing worn by the president and first lady at the 1964 inauguration, pens, paper, and chairs used in the Oval Office, the desk used for the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and thousands of objects related to their daily lives, official duties, and political events.

In addition to these objects, the museum collection includes thousands of domestic gifts received by the Johnson family from ordinary American and foreign citizens. These gifts range from discharge papers and an artillery shell from the Civil War, to letters from Sam Houston, to handcrafted objects made by artisans from all parts of the globe, as well as many ordinary utilitarian objects. Most of the domestic gifts sent to the White House reflect the respect, admiration, and affection many people had for President Johnson.

The Johnson Library is the official depository for the more than two thousand head of state gifts presented to President and Mrs. Johnson, including ceremonial swords from Morocco and Saudi Arabia, Chinese tomb sculptures from the T’ang Dynasty, an alabaster funerary vase from Egypt, and many other finely crafted objects from all around the world. Such gifts are symbols of diplomacy and friendship between the people of two countries. The exchange of gifts is usually part of the ceremonies conducted during official visits from heads of state and are accepted by the president and first lady, not for themselves but on behalf of all American citizens. Unlike domestic gifts, the federal government retains ownership of all head of state gifts.

The museum houses two other large collections of special interest. One is a collection of four thousand original editorial cartoons collected by Johnson during the course of his political career. The other is the LBJ political collection containing more than fifteen thousand objects of political memorabilia (campaign buttons, bumper stickers, campaign literature), beginning with the inauguration of George Washington and continuing into the present. The political collection includes materials from numerous national, state, and local political races.

All of the collections of the museum, and those of the textual and audiovisual archives of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, are frequently used by high school and university students, nationally recognized historians, film and television producers, local museums, university staff, and international researchers. Materials from the library frequently appear throughout the country in televised documentaries, news programs, museum exhibitions, or as radio sound bites. Since the Johnson Library and its contents belong to the people of the United States, most of the presidential papers, audiovisual materials, and museum objects are available for public study.