The dedication of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum Plaza and the Lady Bird Johnson Center at The University of Texas at Austin will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 13, celebrating the final stages of completion for several elements of a $34.25 million project funded by the federal government and the university.
Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson, daughters of the former president and first lady, are among the Johnson family members planning to attend the event. Speakers will include Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas; Larry E. Temple, president of the LBJ Foundation; William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin; and Mark K. Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library and Museum.
The renovations of the plaza and the library and museum are part of a $53.67 million funding package that also provided $19.42 million for interior renovation of facilities for the LBJ School of Public Affairs in the nearby Sid Richardson Hall III building, which is scheduled for completion Dec. 15.
“The renovation of the LBJ Library was integral to its viability as a destination for scholars and anyone interested in history and the legacy of President Lyndon Johnson,” said Larry E. Temple, president of the LBJ Foundation. “In connection with the repairs, new facilities were added to honor Lady Bird Johnson and recognize her enormous contributions to the landscape of the 20th century. As a result, the library now has classroom facilities that will permit school children to learn about the events of the 1930s through the 1960s. The LBJ Library continues to be an outstanding repository of documents and artifacts of that period of our history as well as serving as a much-attended venue for dialogue of the issues of the present.”
Temple said the LBJ Foundation acknowledges an “incalculable debt of gratitude” to The University of Texas at Austin, the National Archives and especially Sen. Hutchison for their support of the project. He said Hutchison took the leadership initiative to get the federal government’s share of the funding so the public can benefit from the facility.
“The LBJ Library continues to be the only presidential library that charges no admission fee for attendance by the general public,” Temple said. “This is a grand re-launching of the LBJ Library.”
“Lady Bird Johnson was a friend of mine and one of the most beloved first ladies in our nation’s history, exemplifying class, dignity and kindness throughout her entire life,” said Hutchison. “I am so proud to have helped secure the funding needed to complete the renovation of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum so that the legacy of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, one of Texas’ most distinguished couples, will be preserved for future generations of students and citizens.”
Powers said the renovations address deterioration that had occurred since the LBJ Library was dedicated in 1971. Although the building design was state-of-the-art, through the years it had developed problems, including water leaks.
“Thousands of people from throughout the United States and abroad come to the LBJ Library and Museum each year to learn about the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson and see historical collections reflecting the concerns, achievements and dreams of our country during his administration,” said Powers. “The renovations and enhancements to the building and the plaza demonstrate our pride in making their visit here as fulfilling and memorable as possible.”
Exterior renovations involved in the project included cleaning and restoration of the library and museum building’s exterior walls and transformation of the fountains on the plaza into elevated arboretums with native Texas plants, providing an inviting setting for visitors approaching the building. Bob Rawski, program manager for The University of Texas System’s Office of Facilities Planning and Construction, said planners have been working with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in selection of the plants.
Rawski said planners also worked with the Texas Historical Commission in selecting the sturdier granite stone to replace the travertine that had been the flooring surface for the plaza.
Inside the library and museum, the auditorium has been renovated and renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium. Nearby, a large classroom area has been constructed for use by visiting students of all ages to study the life and times of President Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, as well as a broad range of topics.
The project architect is Overland Partners of San Antonio, Texas. The construction manager is Flintco and the project management is by The University of Texas System’s Office of Facilities Planning and Construction.