DALLAS - There are twisted girders from the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the bullhorn he used from atop the pile of rubble at Ground Zero in New York, an exact replica of his Oval Office and, yes, even his personal collection of signed baseballs.
When visitors tour the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, they will find a facility that reflects the character and personality of the former president: straightforward, confident and unapologetic.
The library and museum, housed on the campus of Southern Methodist University, will be dedicated Thursday morning. The ceremony will include President Barack Obama and all the living former presidents. The museum and library will open to the public May 1.
The 43,620-square-foot museum recalls the controversies of the 43rd president's eight years in power, starting with the Florida recount in the 2000 election that put him in the White House, to the decision to invade Iraq in March 2003, to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to the U.S. financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.
But the museum touts many other aspects of Bush's presidency - from passage of the No Child Left Behind Act and the prescription drug benefit to his advocacy of comprehensive immigration reform and the initiative to combat HIV-AIDS in Africa.
The museum is part of the 226,000-square-foot George W. Bush Presidential Center, which houses two brick-and-Texas-limestone buildings. One building houses the library and museum, which will be under the control of the National Archives and Records Administration. The other is home to the George W. Bush Institute, a think tank that carries on work begun by Bush while in office.