• George W. Bush Presidential Center

    Exhibits & Events

  • Through our three Impact Centers -- Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and our Engagement Agenda -- we focus on developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

Special Exhibit - First Ladies: Style of Influence

March 1, 2018 - October 1, 2018

Related Report

A Role Without a Rulebook:
The Influence and Leadership of Global First Ladies

By Natalie Gonnella-Platts and Katherine Fritz

The George W. Bush Institute’s First Ladies Initiative and the International Center for Research on Women examined the expanding role of first ladies, their leadership on critical issues, the challenges they face in leveraging this unique platform, and how first ladies overcome those challenges to make a difference on critical issues at local, national, and global levels.

Read the Report

The Bush Center is excited to announce that a new special exhibit, First Ladies: Style of Influence, will open to the public March 1, 2018. The exhibit will run through October 1, 2018.

First Ladies: Style of Influence examines how the role of the first lady has evolved over time, and how first ladies have used their position to advance diplomacy and other social, cultural, and political initiatives.

A Role Without A Rulebook

The impact of first ladies, including Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, Jackie Kennedy, Dolley Madison, Michelle Obama, and Eleanor Roosevelt, will be viewed through themes presented in the Bush Institute’s landmark research report, A Role Without a Rulebook: The Influence and Leadership of Global First Ladies. Visitors will explore how American first ladies have served as hostess, teammate, champion, and policy advocate, all within the context of the changing American political and cultural landscape.

Exhibit Features:

The exhibit will highlight every first lady from Martha Washington to Melania Trump, and feature artifacts spanning more than 200 years of White House history, including:  

  • A replica of Dolley Madison’s 1820s drapery-weight, red velvet, empire-waisted dress. The original was made in France and eventually located in 1956 in the possession of Dolley’s niece’s daughter’s daughter-in-law, who was a hoarder with $1 million worth of Madison memorabilia in her attic.
  • Grace Coolidge’s 1920s art deco black clutch
  • Lou Hoover’s 1920s uniform as national president of the Girl Scouts
  • Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1939 black velvet evening gown worn during her travels around the country serving as FDR’s “eyes, ears, and legs” after his partial-paralysis from polio
  • Michelle Obama’s belted, pleated, sleeveless red Michael Kors dress worn during her 2013 visit with President Obama to the U.S. Naval Academy
  • Barbara Bush: a blue skirt suit by Arnold Scaasi (attached) worn on the cover of her 1990 “Millie’s Book” -- see pic.
  • Laura Bush: a blue gown by Bill Blass worn to the Ghana state dinner in 2008

 As their stories unfold, visitors will learn the challenges and rewards of a position that is reimagined by each person who holds it.


Carol and Alan J. Bernon Family Foundation 

The Hersh Foundation 



Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District