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Local museum to celebrate endowment with Johnsons

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To celebrate the recent Claudia Taylor Johnson Endowment of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos, the historical venue is set to celebrate next spring.

The museum will be celebrating their new endowment at Spring Shindig 2016 at the LBJ Natural Historical Park April 23in hopes of continuing to honor the legacy of former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The celebration will include a performance from country artist Michael Martin Murphey, an auction and a guitar giveaway, said Rafael Garcia, museum manager.

Edward Mihalkanin, board president of the museum, said the idea of developing an endowment stemmed from his research on nonprofit corporations.

Endowments are used to protect venues from collapsing during any temporary downturn in the economy or in the case of unexpected situations such as the Memorial Day and Halloween weekend floods, Mihalkanin said.

The endowment will ensure the viability of the museum and the board does not want to be dependent on donations, Mihalkanin said.

“What we’re trying to do is get a fund that we can draw from to help us maintain the museum for far into the future,” Mihalkanin said.

The museum currently receives funding from the city of San Marcos and Hays County.

Mihalkanin said with the endowment, the board could afford to bring in additional exhibits to gain more visitors.

The last visiting exhibit featured at the museum was called the Tejano Sons of Texas exhibit in 2009. Currently, the auditorium space is being used as a meeting center for board members of the museum.

Garcia wants to occupy the auditorium space with other exhibits, including the possibility of obtaining and bringing in items from the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

“If we’re able to get the space suit, we’ll be able to turn the whole auditorium into another exhibit,” Garcia said. “The endowment will make a lot of exhibits possible for the museum.”

Mihalkanin said the museum currently has temporary exhibits, one being connected to the Higher Education Act. The board was able to acquire the desk and chair President Johnson used when he signed the legislation.

The board plans to invite more guest speakers to the museum as well. Since there is currently no money to pay for the travel expenses of speakers, the museum can normally only draw people in from 50 miles away.

Garcia said the endowment will allow him to retrieve documents and photos for the museum archives and develop a gift shop to sell T-shirts, pens and other merchandise.

Mihalkanin said the endowment was named Claudia Taylor Johnson rather than Lady Bird Johnson because he found Mrs. Johnson actually hated her nickname.

“We made a promise to Luci Johnson that we would name the endowment after her mother,” Mihalkanin said. “We wanted to make sure that the name would be something that Mrs. Johnson would very much approve of and so we were very happy and honored that Luci agreed that the endowment would be named after her mother.”

The endowment was named after Claudia Taylor Johnson to honor the courage and devotion she had that influenced her husband while he was in office, Garcia said.

Mihalkanin said the museum’s mission is to show how the former president’s experience at Texas State and his teachings in Cotulla affected his public policy and education career.

“He was a student here and he’s our most distinguished alum here,” Garcia said. “We’re the only university in the state that can say a president graduated from our university. We should be proud of that and embrace that and keep the legacy going.”