Presidential Museum and Leadership Library
The Presidential Museum and Leadership Library is a museum and library complex located at 4919 East University Blvd. in Odessa, Texas, on the campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Unlike the many presidential libraries, the museum is dedicated to the office of the President of the United States, rather than any individual who has held the position. The museum-library was originally located in downtown Odessa, but under legislation authored in 1999 by the late State Representative George E. "Buddy" West of Odessa and signed into law by then Governor George W. Bush, the facility was moved into a new oval-shaped complex located adjacent to the Ellen Noel Art Museum on the UTPB campus.
The idea of the museum stemmed from the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 in Dallas. A Presidential Room was designated in the Ector County Library in downtown Odessa on January 1, 1964. It was opened to the public on February 25, 1965.
The museum maintains a collection of campaign memorabilia, portraits, signatures, documents, commemorative items, and political cartoons of the Presidents, Vice Presidents, First Ladies, defeated presidential candidates, as well as the four Presidents of the Republic of Texas and Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America. There is a collection of Dishong miniature dolls of the First Ladies. The name "Presidential Museum" was adopted in 1969, when the facility occupied a 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) basement of the library. In 1981, the Ector County Library moved to another location, and the museum occupied all of the former library building. The museum also procured a grant from the City of Odessa for further renovation at that time.
The "Library of the Presidents," dedicated to the late Texas Attorney General John Ben Shepperd, contains a repository for more than 4,500 volumes, journals, periodicals, newspapers, and documents pertaining to the presidency.
The museum was not fully operational at the new complex until the fall of 2003. Three traveling exhibits were featured from 2002-2003 in the permanent galleries pending completion of the building. The exhibit "Presidential Hopefuls" is a collection of campaign memorabilia of defeated presidential candidates. "We Shall Overcome" reflects upon the actions of Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson during the civil rights movement. The third exhibit is a model of the White House, built to the scale of one inch for every foot.
Since the relocation, two other buildings associated with Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have been moved to the Presidential Museum site: (1) a modest house formerly at 917 East 17th Street in Odessa briefly occupied in 1948-1949 by the first President Bush, his wife, Barbara Pierce Bush, and first son George and (2) the residence formerly at 1405 West Golf Course Road in Midland purchased by George W. Bush in 1977, a year before he married Laura Welch Bush. The Bushes sold that residence in 1985. The presidential residences are reserved as an educational resource, rather than availability for high-traffic museum usage. Though the museum avoids the focus on individual presidents, the Bushes have received special attention because of their early ties to Midland-Odessa.
Mary Frances Beverly, a freelance writer from West Texas, concluded a 1998 article in Texas Highways magazine: "So, here's your ballot. Is Odessa's presentation of U.S. Presidents fun? Educational? Worth the trip? No doubt about it. But in true democratic spirit, come see the museum for yourself, and cast your own vote. Remember, every day here is Presidents' Day. It is worth the trip to this one-of-a-kind museum just to remind yourself of the proud and important heritage surrounding the office of the American presidency."
The Presidential Museum is an 501 (c) (3) organization. It was recognized as a corporation by the state of Texas in September 1978. The museum is attempting to establish a $4 million endowment for continuous growth.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
After fighting financial hardships, the Presidential Museum temporarily closed its doors to the public from August 2009 to February 2010.
Theodore Roosevelt exhibit
- "History of the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library". presidentialmuseum.org. Retrieved July 7, 2009; the website is no longer available for viewing..
- "The Presidential Museum". allacrosstexas.com. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
- Aaron Bensonhaver, "The Presidential Museum Has a New Home", Odessa American, August 19, 2002
- "Byron Browne, "West Texas Museums"". Texasescapes.com. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
- Mary Frances Beverly, Texas Highways, February 1998, cited in "History of Presidential Museum and Leadership Library"
- Presidential Museum Closes. CBS7 News, 21 August 2009.  Retrieved 10 September 2009.