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Bush Center Presents the Lighter Side of the White House in New Exhibit

Special exhibit gives behind-the-scenes peek into presidential humor

February 19, 2020

DALLAS, TEXAS (February 19, 2020) – The George W. Bush Presidential Center is excited to announce that a new special exhibit, Liberty & Laughter: The Lighter Side of the White House will open to the public March 5, 2020. The exhibit will run through October 4, 2020. 

Liberty & Laughter will give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lighter side of life in the White House. Entertaining first family anecdotes, interactive multimedia, and amusing artifacts will unveil presidential pranks and inside jokes, and awards to the wittiest, quippiest, most mischievous president and first lady will grace the pursuit of happiness walk. Revealing how humor has evolved from our Founding Fathers to the present day makes one thing readily apparent – laughter remains vital to a thriving democracy.

"Liberty & Laughter shows the importance of humor in a democracy; we are free to express our thoughts about our leaders in many ways – sometimes as cartoon caricatures. This exhibit reminds us that our presidents are real people, with a sense of humor that helped them in their important job of leading our country,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Jocular historical documents, photographs, and artifacts will be on display, including first lady correspondence with actors and personalities like Mary Tyler Moore and Marge Simpson, Ronald Reagan’s joke notecards, President Clinton’s sunglasses from The Arsenio Hall Show and one of his many saxophones, and a hand-written humorous verse President Franklin D. Roosevelt composed to the three press associations.

Visitors will experience humor through cartoons and caricatures, learn the savvy ways presidents have added levity to debates and interactions with the press, and laugh their way through a presidential talent show. A lively mirth-matching quiz will adorn one gallery while another will offer the chance to copycat famous presidential impersonators. Opportunities will abound for visitors to ponder how essential humor is to the presidency, with reminders along the way from the likes of President George Washington who astutely stated, “it is assuredly better to go laughing than crying thro’ the rough journey of life.”

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About the George W. Bush Presidential Center 

Rooted in the guiding principles of President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush, the George W. Bush Presidential Center engages communities in the United States and around the world by developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. The Bush Center is home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which is operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, and the George W. Bush Institute, the non-partisan, public-policy arm of the Bush Center. The Bush Center is located on the campus of SMU in Dallas, Texas, and also includes a 15-acre park; Café 43, a full-service restaurant; and a Museum Store.