Sam Rayburn Museum - Resources
The Sam Rayburn Museum exhibits photographs, original letters, political cartoons, art, furniture, and personal memorabilia relating to important events in the life and times of Sam Rayburn.
The centerpiece of the Sam Rayburn Museum is a replica of the formal office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker Rayburn worked in this office whenever he was in Bonham between sessions of the Congress. Located on the north side of the building, the room features original furnishings from the Speaker's office in the Capitol, including Rayburn's personal desk, red leather furniture, and rug. A massive crystal and silver chandelier dominates the room. Originally placed in the White House during the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, this chandelier and the others like it were removed on orders of President Theodore Roosevelt, who objected to the noise created when breezes stirred the hundreds of cut crystals. They were later distributed among the most important rooms in the Capitol.The room's barrel-vaulted ceiling, hand decorated by Italian artisans, and its tile floor patterns are also exact copies of the floor and ceiling in Rayburn's capitol office. The fireplace immediately behind the desk was originally installed in the House of Representatives, where it remained for ninety-two years until its removal during the Capitol renovation project in the late 1940s.
The west wing of the Sam Rayburn Museum houses two exhibit galleries, The HG Dulaney Gallery and the Bluebonnet Gallery. These galleries feature items from Rayburn's life, from his early childhood to his days as Speaker, including his college diploma, original letters from Presidents F. D. Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, a portrait of his sister and confidant Lucinda Rayburn, and a painting of a field of Texas bluebonnets by Porfiro Salinas. The Dulaney Gallery also features a white fireplace mantle that was installed originally in the Adams Room of the White House but removed during the renovation in the late 1940s. On display inside the Museum reading room in the west wing are gifts made to Rayburn in appreciation of his public service, as well as the bulk of Speaker Rayburn's personal library.
The Speaker's Rostrum
The entrance foyer of the Museum contains the white marble Speaker's rostrum that stood on the dais of the House of Representatives from 1857 until 1950. When the House was renovated in 1950, the rostrum was removed from the Capitol Building. It was presented to Sam Rayburn by his colleagues in the House of Representatives. for permanent display in this museum.
The Rayburn Statue and Plaza
On the Museum grounds in front of the entrance portico is a plaza dedicated to Rayburn's memory. A gift of the Sid Richardson Foundation and the Anne Burnett and Charles Tandy Foundation, the plaza is dominated by sculptor Blaine Gibson's bronze statue of Rayburn holding the Speaker's gavel and a scroll with the words "We the People." Completed in 1990, the plaza also features a memorial fountain and selected quotes from Rayburn speeches etched into stone.
The Sam Rayburn Museum also houses Rayburn's personal library and an extensive collection of books that relate to his career or to the people, issues, and events with which he dealt during his years of public service. Rayburn's personal library makes up the bulk of the extensive book collection. Although a number of the books are rare or scarce, most are well-thumbed works about American government and history that Rayburn used during his career in Congress. The collection also contains a set of the Congressional Record as well as a number of books personally inscribed to Rayburn by admirers such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. A card file index provides access to the holdings in this library. The Library also contains on microfilm Rayburn's official papers and a microfilm reader. Speaker Rayburn's original papers are part of the Center's Congressional History Collection and are available in the Center's Research and Collections Division located in Sid Richardson Hall Unit 2 on the main campus of University of Texas at Austin. Papers of many of Rayburn's congressional colleagues, such as John Nance Garner, James Buchanan, Maury Maverick, Sr., Lloyd Bentsen, Jr., Frank Ikard, and Ralph Yarborough, are also available for use in the Briscoe Center's Research and Collections Division. Also in Austin, adjacent to Sid Richardson Hall, is the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum, where additional material related to Rayburn's political career may be found.
The Sam Rayburn Museum celebrates Rayburn's birthday each January with an open house and reception. Different traveling exhibits are featured in the main reading room tthroughout the year. In addition, the Sam Rayburn Museum joins with the three other historical sites in Bonham to host a holiday open house and reception each December. The Sam Rayburn Museum also works in partnership with the Friends of Sam Rayburn to present their annual fundraising banquet in the spring.