Sam Rayburn Museum: Reimagined and Reopened
November 13, 2012
BONHAM, Texas — The Sam Rayburn Museum reopened Sunday, November 11, after a comprehensive renovation of its permanent exhibit, the first major overhaul of the exhibit since the museum opened more than fifty years ago.
Bonham Mayor Roy Floyd and Fannin County Judge Spanky Carter attended.
"Speaker Rayburn's legacy can now be better understood because of new digital features and restored treasures," said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. "The museum has been reimagined for the 21st-century visitor. I am grateful to Congressman Ralph Hall for his robust advocacy of local history."
Sam Rayburn served as congressman during the administrations of eight presidents. Along with another Texan, Vice President John Nance Garner, he played a critical role in passing much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. He first became Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1940 and held the position for longer than any other congressman in U.S. history.
Briscoe Center staff, both in Bonham and Austin, spent many hours developing the exhibit. Additionally, a new resource has been created – the archives explorer – which enables visitors to interact with Rayburn's papers through a digital touchscreen interface. Archivists have combed through the Rayburn Papers and other political collections held at the Briscoe Center to digitize the most significant items that illustrate the life and legacy of "Mr. Sam."
"The museum has always been an important educational resource for the Bonham and Fannin County community," said Dr. Carleton. "It's something that puts us on the map, connecting us in a special way to the national narrative. We're confident that the renovations will deepen this connection and enhance the educational power of local history."
The Rayburn Museum is a division of the Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.