National Archives to Transfer George W. Bush Museum Operations to the George W. Bush Foundation
Press Release · Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Acting Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall today announced that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the George W. Bush Foundation have reached final agreement to move forward with fundamental changes to the relationship between the Foundation and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Under the signed agreement, the museum as well as the volunteer program will officially transfer from NARA to the Foundation on January 1, 2023. The agreement includes plans to digitize the Presidential records of the George W. Bush administration to make these materials discoverable and usable by the broadest possible audience.
NARA will retain all responsibility for the legal and physical custody of the records and artifacts at the Library and will control all access to them. NARA will provide records and artifacts to the George W. Bush Foundation for display in the museum through NARA’s loan program. In addition, NARA will continue to lead the education program at the Library and remains committed to civic literacy and education both locally and at a national level.
This decision comes after extensive review and discussion among the staff with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, NARA, and Foundation leadership. In July, the Committee requested the transfer be paused, raising concerns that it would diminish NARA’s ability to ensure Presidential materials and historic artifacts are presented in a fair and balanced manner. In discussions through the summer and fall, a supplemental agreement was drafted that requires:
- the Foundation to solicit historian and NARA input into major changes to the permanent exhibition galleries;
- NARA and the Foundation to establish signage that will distinguish between NARA and Foundation spaces;
- NARA to use Trust Funds to digitize the archival collections of the library to enable public access; and
- the next Archivist of the United States to provide input on the implementation of the new requirements.
NARA and the Foundation have executed a Memorandum of Understanding to include the agreed-upon terms of the supplemental agreement. NARA will now implement the Joint Use and Operating Agreement dated April 27, 2022, with an effective date of January 1, 2023.
Under this agreement, no NARA staff will lose their jobs or change duty stations. NARA will work closely with the George W. Bush Foundation to ensure there is no impact to NARA’s customers as a result of this change and to continue NARA’s important work.
This change is a result of NARA’s efforts, in the wake of long-term budget challenges, to evaluate how services are provided and to assess the sustainability of current structures. It also reflects NARA’s intent, with regard to museum operations, for the administrations of George W. Bush forward. NARA remains committed to the Presidential Library system, and no changes to the museums from the Hoover through Clinton administrations are being contemplated.
Today’s announcement will position NARA to maximize limited resources and to continue to promote the understanding of the Presidency and the American experience through the Presidential Library system and enhanced access to Presidential records.
National Archives Presidential Libraries and Museums promote understanding of the Presidency and the American experience. They preserve and provide access to historical materials, support research, and create interactive programs and exhibits that educate and inspire. The Presidential Library system is composed of 15 Presidential Libraries. These facilities are overseen by the Office of Presidential Libraries in the National Archives and Records Administration.
This page was last reviewed on November 16, 2022.
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