Designing for The President of the United States – Remembering George H.W. Bush
Before we founded Designsite in 1999, I worked at DMCD a top exhibit and graphic design firm based in New York City and Greenwich CT. During this time, I had the opportunity to work with clients including IBM, Panasonic, Pepsi and Ingersoll Rand. Having designed two Presidential Libraries already for Presidents Johnson and Nixon, DMCD was awarded the project for The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, to be established in College Station, Texas in 1997.
As a Senior Associate, it was my task to head up interactive design for several of the exhibits. It was a great experience for a young designer to work on such an important and prestigious project and certainly raised the bar for my design skills. Several months later, the project was complete. The architects’ building was designed and completed and the installation of our exhibit graphics and interactive programs would be on display to the world.
The night before the opening ceremonies, President and Barbara Bush invited everyone who worked on the project to The Vintage House at the Messina Hof Vineyards in Bryan, Texas for a job well done. There were other notable figures present as well who would be attending the next day’s ceremony. At one point, I was standing with Caroline Kennedy as President Bush approached. We chatted a little bit, and being proud of our work, I told him that his was now the most technologically-advanced of all Presidential Museums, based on our innovative interactive design programs. He looked at me and smiled and remarked “you don’t say?” I replied proudly “I do say!” and we both laughed. After dinner and desserts, President Bush walked up front and gave a talk about how appreciative he was of everyone’s work to make this dream come true. At one point, he said “and did you know what we have the most technologically-advanced Presidential museum of all of them,” which made me smile. He was a quick study!
The opening ceremony the next morning on Thursday November 7, 1997 was magical: a perfect sunny day with some celebrities sprinkled about as we took our seats outside the front of the museum. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Crystal Gayle, Chuck Norris and Rusty Staub, among others. But at the platform before us, it was a virtual who’s-who of presidential politics. The families of Presidents John F. Kennedy, The Johnsons, as well as former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, each of whom spoke. Of course future President George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush were there and each spoke about the accomplishments of President George H.W. Walker Bush.
After the ceremony, this would be the first group of people to view the exhibits and the interactive programs housed within. Opportunities like this don’t happen often – maybe just one in a career, but it was a time to remember for always. Not long after, I was thrilled to receive a personal letter from President Bush, seen here. The satisfaction of working on the project was great, but the letter is something I’ll always cherish.
Time moves on: twenty-one years later First Lady Barbara Bush passed away, President Herbert Walker Bush died, mere months after his wife. They’ll both be remembered with reverence and I’m proud to have helped them tell their story.
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