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"Laying Down the Gavel" Exhibit Opens at Briscoe Center’s Rayburn Museum

Nov. 2, 2011

di_03324-Flowers on Sam Rayburn’s desk with United States flag in background. [recto]
(di_03324) Flowers on Sam Rayburn’s desk with United States flag in background.

BONHAM, Texas—In commemoration of the 50 years that have passed since the November 16, 1961 death of Sam Rayburn, the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum opens a new exhibit, "Laying Down the Gavel. " An in–depth look at the events surrounding the end of Rayburn's life, the exhibit is open to the public from November 16 to December 16, 2011. "Laying Down the Gavel, " was developed in conjunction with the Sam Rayburn House Museum.

The Sam Rayburn Library and Museum and the Sam Rayburn House Museum will also host a Rayburn Commemorative Progressive History Tour on November 18, from 6–8 p.m. Stops on the tour include culturally and historically significant locations in Bonham, Sam Rayburn's hometown for 45 years with each site focusing on a different aspect of Rayburn's life. Visitors will learn about how Rayburn's passing changed the nation and what his death meant to private citizens, national leaders, and our country. Along with displays of photos, archives, and artifacts from the Sam Rayburn Museum, some of the sites will feature oral history presentations.

Tour locations include the Bonham Visitor's Information Center, the Creative Arts Center, the Fannin County Historical Commission, the Fannin County Museum of History, the First Baptist Church of Bonham, and the Sam Rayburn Library & Museum. In addition to the exhibitions, each site will serve refreshments. Shuttle–bus transportation to each of the tour sites is being provided by the Texoma Area Para-Transit System (TAPS).

A division of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum contains exhibits on Sam Rayburn's life and career and features an exact replica of the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives during Rayburn's tenure. It 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. For more information visit

The Sam Rayburn House Museum and visitor center are currently not available for tours due to extensive restoration work. The visitor center and gallery will re–open in early November and the exhibit, "Preserving the Speaker's Legacy: Restoration and Renovation at the Sam Rayburn House Museum" will remain open to the public during much of the remainder of the project. The Sam Rayburn House Museum is one of 20 historic sites operated by the Texas Historical Commission.