Bush Library Welcomes New Director
The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum has a new director for the first time in 20 years. Dawn Hammatt, who started her new role in late January, said she is excited to join the library at a pivotal time in its history.
A centennial celebration honoring the anniversary of the 41st president’s birth that began last June will culminate this summer on June 12, which would have been Bush’s 100th birthday. A new 29,000 square-foot facility housing a retired Marine One helicopter, the Union Pacific No. 4141 locomotive – which led the president’s funeral train to his final resting place on the museum grounds in 2018 – as well as an onsite café is also scheduled for completion in June.
Hammatt previously spent six years as director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas. There, she led the 22-acre campus through a multimillion-dollar renovation and restoration of Eisenhower’s boyhood home.
“I’m happy to come here and be able to participate in the anniversary and the new building and exhibits, because it’s really an exciting time for growth here,” Hammatt said.
The National Archives announced Hammatt’s appointment on Dec. 19. The role was previously held by Warren Finch from 2004 until his retirement in December 2022. The Bush Library opened in College Station in 1997.
Bush’s strong belief in the value of public service is a concept that resonates with Hammatt, who describes herself as a lifelong public servant. She’s spent her career serving museums in Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi and Kansas, mainly with a focus on history and culture.
“My true passion is with public history,” Hammatt said. “The concept of the presidency as an office, as a role and then the interaction and meaning of that with the rest of the public and where the country goes, that’s really fascinating.”
Having come from the Eisenhower Library with extensive knowledge of the presidency in the 1950s, Hammatt said she was excited about the opportunity to transition into a role focusing on educating people about a presidency that took place in the modern era and a time period she lived through.
“To be able to share that history and information with the public is what I’m really passionate about,” she said.