The artifacts and voluminous documents on exhibit here provide some insight into the 36th president's mind and motivations, and though his foibles are downplayed, a clear sense of the man—earthy, conniving, sensitive, and wry—emerges. That he was able to function at all may surprise visitors born during the high-tech era. In an age when the average car is loaded with digital gadgets and 12-year-olds with cell phones are commonplace, Johnson's black Lincoln limousine
and clunky, command-central telephone seem quaintly archaic, though they were state-of-the-art during his presidency. If you schedule your visit to the reading room in advance of your arrival, you can listen to recordings of conversations Johnson had using that telephone. The 30-plus hours of tape recordings include ruminations on Vietnam, economic inflation, and a New York City transit strike. Gordon Bunshaft designed the monolithic travertine building that houses the library; like the limo and the phone, it's a bit of a period piece. There are rotating temporary exhibits on the ground floor. Be sure to check out the second floor, where a life-size audio-animatronic figure of LBJ spins humorous anecdotes; it's a hoot.