Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Austin's LBJ Library will reopen next month -- but this time it's all about Lady Bird

Michael Barnes
Austin 360
A Johnson family portrait from 1963 with Lynda Bird Johnson, Luci Baines Johnson, President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson.

The LBJ Presidential Library, one of Austin's top tourist spots, is set to reopen July 14 with a major show on Lady Bird Johnson. 

The public may visit during two-intervals between 10 a.m. and  4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. Capacity will be limited. Advance tickets will go on sale July 5 at lbjlibrary.org.

"It's truly a pleasure to be opening our doors again after so many challenging months,” said Mark Lawrence, director of the LBJ Library, which closed March 13, 2020, during the start of the pandemic in Austin. “Health and safety remain our highest priorities, but we are confident that our procedures will keep everyone safe while enabling visitors to see our permanent displays on the Johnson presidency along with our brand-new temporary exhibit, 'Lady Bird: Beyond the Wildflowers.'"

More:Glen Rose attracts tourists with pristine water, dinosaurs, books and Texas history

Library visitors must buy tickets in advance for one of three slots: 10 a.m. to noon; noon to 2 p.m.; and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is free in the LBJ Library lot on Red River Street. No masks are required for guests who have been vaccinated. Other familiar pandemic protocols — social distancing, no large groups — will be in force.

The Lady Bird exhibit will look into Johnson’s "education, family, campaign efforts, acumen as a businesswoman, leadership in environmental conservation, and her role as a philanthropist," according to a statement from the library.

The LBJ Presidential Library at night in 2017.

It comes at a propitious moment in the history of the former first family and the presidency as a whole: Julia Sweig recently released “Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight,” a masterly new look at Lady Bird's political and policy influence. Sweig has kept us informed about her research through “In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson,” a popular podcast.

In fact, Sweig confirms that Lady Bird was already planning the Austin museum and library in 1964, months after LBJ took office following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She wanted it to open soon after LBJ left office in 1969, a departure from Washington, D.C., that Lady Bird also had planned.

LBJ Library reopens on July 14

10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays in two-hour intervals. Tickets must be purchased in advance, starting July 5 at lbjlibrary.org. The first exhibit will be "Lady Bird Johnson: Beyond the Wildflowers."

Michael Barnes writes about the people, places, culture and history of Austin and Texas. He can be reached at mbarnes@statesman.com.