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Tim Russert’s office tells a story

The legacy of the late television journalist Tim Russert is too big for just one room in the Buffalo History Museum.

There’s more than can fit into “Inside Tim Russert’s Office: If It’s Sunday, It’s ‘Meet the Press,’ ” the re-creation of the place where he prepared for his weekly hosting duties on NBC’s premiere weekly political talk show. Until recently, it was on display in the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

For the members’ and media preview celebrating the new exhibit Thursday evening, library and archives director Cynthia Van Ness unearthed photos of a shaggy-haired Russert during his visit to the building in 1979 with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, for whom he was chief of staff.

“Here he is against a pillar,” she noted. For her display in the research library, she also assembled newspaper clippings, magazine covers and copies of his three books, including the audio version of his autobiography, “Big Russ and Me.”

Meanwhile, enclosed in a glass case in the auditorium is Russert’s “standing desk,” the wide, waist-high, slant-top platform on which he leafed through books, newspapers and magazines as he did his research.

The Newseum had it, museum executive director Melissa Brown explained during a short program prior to the opening of the office display, “but they didn’t have room for it in Washington.”

Like the office display, it has been sent here on a long-term loan. Other items have been loaned by NBC and Russert’s family.

The office exhibit includes a short video that accompanied the Newseum’s display, but the museum has produced an additional video, which was watched by a standing-room crowd during Thursday evening’s program.

Narrated by WGRZ-TV anchor Maryalice Demler, it focuses on how growing up in Buffalo shaped Russert’s personality.

“In Washington,” Brown said after the video was shown, “people went to see him as a national icon. Here, it’s more of a nostalgia piece.”

Steve McCarville, president of the museum’s board of managers, thanked Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, and the Russert family “for bringing this exhibit home. It’s such a great loss that he’s no longer with us. The best thing we can do is remember him.”

Mayor Byron W. Brown paid tribute to Russert’s “civic pride, which he enhanced whenever he spoke about his hometown.”

The mayor also pointed out other notables in the audience, including Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, State Supreme Court Justices Henry Nowak and Penny Wolfgang, and former county Democratic chairman Joseph Crangle, who he said was one of Russert’s mentors.

The public will get its first look at Russert’s office during the grand opening today, when the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission will be free as part of M&T Bank’s Third Friday program.

The museum’s mezzanine and the Russert exhibit will be closed from 4 to 6 p.m. in preparation for a VIP reception, which will be attended by Russert’s son, Luke, who is a correspondent for NBC News.

email: danderson@buffnews.com