The Bush family’s Scottish Terriers are projected on various walls, playing in the snow to the sound of a cappella holiday harmonies. Giant gold ornaments line the striking red walls and in the middle of a replica of the White House’s blue room stands a Christmas tree, whose height rivals all but the one on Dallas Hall lawn.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library is opening its holiday exhibit to the public Saturday, and the theme is following that of the White House Christmas in 2002: All Creatures Great and Small. Hence the puppies.
Along with its decorations and Christmas tunes, the exhibit will feature sculptures of the pets of 11 presidents, ranging from the Coolidges’ raccoons to the Wilsons’ sheep to the Adams’ alligator. The sculptures were used to decorate the White House during the 2002 holiday season.
“We’re so excited to open this year’s exhibit to the public on Saturday. It’s kind of hard to think back but in 2002, the country was still reeling after 9/11,” said Amy Polley, the museum’s curator. “The site of ground zero had just been cleared that spring. Having the Christmas theme, and focusing as the year before on homes, focusing this year on pets, the White House, President and Mrs. Bush are still focusing on the comforts of the home family and friends.”
The Christmas tree features more than 230 original artifacts, including five replicas of indigenous birds from each state, created by five different artists from those states. There are speech cards from the former president’s appearances that year, as well as invitations to holiday celebrations, and letters and gifts from citizens across the country.
“We’re very lucky this year to get, on loan from the White House, the original portrait painting that was used to create the Christmas cards,” said Polley. “2002 was also the first year that Barney Cam was launched. It was a huge success. It was another way that the White House used to reach out to the people and have a little glimpse of the decorations from that year. Finally, we’re so excited this year to have President Bush’s original painting, a Texas mockingbird, that was used for our 2014 ornament.”
The library and museum will host holiday events, too. There will be various programming in the classroom every Saturday, musical groups performing on Fridays, and the center will be open late, until 8 p.m. Nov. 28 for a special Christmas event featuring Santa Claus in the oval office, crafts and activities in the classroom for children, singing groups and more.
Café 43 will have a seasonal menu and special holiday gifts will be available for purchase in the gift shop for the duration of the exhibit.
For tickets and information, visit the Bush Library’s website.