LEWISVILLE, Texas — Eight years of "still-evolving" American history is meticulously cataloged, wrapped, stored and guarded in the climate-controlled warehouse.
Sixty-eight million pages of documents, a surfboard, 175 million e-mails, countless cowboy hats, 3,845,912 photographs, Stan "The Man" Musial's autograph, gold and silver swords, handmade quilts, diamond jewelry, cowboy boots, classified files, a gift from the pope and the 9 mm Glock pistol that Saddam Hussein was armed with when he was rooted out of his spider hole in Iraq.
Welcome to the Bush White House, now in storage in Lewisville, where there's even wood flooring from the Oval Office and chairs from the press room.
It will all eventually move to the $300 million George W. Bush Presidential Library opening at Southern Methodist University in 2013. But for now, archivists are trying to get their arms around the massive collection of documents and "museum objects" stored in the 60,000-square-foot facility managed by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Lavish personal gifts — like diamond and sapphire jewelry given to first lady Laura Bush by the king of Saudi Arabia and custom cowboy boots with the large GWB monogram from Houston bootmaker Rocky Carroll — grab one's attention first.
"I like to think of them as a good time capsule that reveals everything that is going on during his eight years in office," said Jennifer Schulle, the library’s registrar.
"You get to see not only things going on politically, but you see things going on in terms of fashion, social customs, culture," she said. "We’ve got gifts from American Idol winners and the Jonas Brothers. The gifts really reveal more than just politics."
The art objects range from an incredible mosaic of St. Peter's Square given to President Bush by Pope Benedict XVI to a stunning gold replica of the Temple of Heaven, given by the Chinese minister of foreign affairs, with the five figurines from the Beijing Olympics accented with Swarovski crystals.
To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.