“It was a voyage of discovery, a quest for excellence that inspired universal trust and faith. In that brief unfinished journey, he made us believe once more in the great historic purpose of this land. He filled America with pride and made the nation young again.” – Edward M Kennedy.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library and museum of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States (1961–1963). It is located on Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, next to the University of Massachusetts Boston. Designed by the architect I. M. Pei, the building is the official repository for original papers and correspondence of the Kennedy Administration. The library and museum were dedicated in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter and members of the Kennedy family.
The library’s first floor features a museum containing video monitors, family photographs, and political memorabilia. Visitors to the museum begin their visit by watching a film narrated by President Kennedy. There are seven permanent exhibits to view beginning with the Campaign Trail, featuring 1960 Democratic National Convention memorabilia, and a replica of a Kennedy campaign office:
The Briefing Room, comprises an exhibition on Kennedy’s speeches and press conferences. There’s also The Space Race, The Inauguration, JFK and Vietnam, and the Attorney General’s Office: an exhibit on Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, President Kennedy’s brother and closest political advisor which features fascinating information on RFK’s role in fighting organized crime as chief counsel for the Senate McClellan Committee, and the Department of Justice’s role in the American Civil Rights Movement during RFK’s time as attorney general. The centerpiece of the exhibit are items that RFK had in his office at the Department of Justice Building. These include documents, personal items, and a bust of Winston Churchill by Leo Cherne.
The pen used by President Kennedy to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963:
One of the highlights of the visit is a reconstruction of The Oval Office exactly as it was during the Kennedy administration with some of JFKs most treasured items on display.
The Resolute Desk was such an important part of President Kennedy’s office, and is symbolic of Anglo-American friendship. H.M.S. Resolute was part of an expedition in search of Sir John Franklin in 1852. The ship was later found abandoned. It was eventually purchased and sent England as a gift for her Majesty Queen Victoria by the President and people of the United States as a token of goodwill and friendship. The desk was made from the timbers of the ship when she was broken up, and was presented by the Queen back to the President in 1878 when Rutherford Hayes was in office.
A photograph of the Oval Office during the Kennedy administration. Most of his personal items on the desk are now on display at the museum.
The President’s love of the sea and sailing is evident in the reconstruction of the Oval office. Below is a framed fragment of a pennant flown on the Raleigh, a ship commanded by John Barry, the Irish-American founder of the U.S. Navy.
Andre Malraux presented JFK with this model of the French frigate, La Flore, built in the Americas and purchased by the French in 1784.
This rocking chair is the one that stood in his office near the fireplace, and which he was often photographed sitting in, when distinguished visitors came to visit. Joseph Kennedy gave this chair to his son who first used it in his Senate office. The back pad and seat cushion were presented to JFK during his June 1963 visit to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. The President had suffered from debilitating back problems throughout his life.
Vice Admiral Hyman Rickover, U.S. Navy, gave JFK a plaque inscribed with a prayer familiar to Breton fishermen which he used to display on his desk:
President Kennedy’s personal coffee mug:
Jacqueline Kennedy has been quoted as saying that this tiny figure of Hercules (around 500 B.C.) was one of JFK’s favourite items which he kept on the Resolute desk. “He loved it because it was older than any of the others”.
Jacqueline Kennedy commissioned a Cape Cod woodcarver to create these shorebirds as a gift for her husband. JFK always displayed them in the Oval Office as they reminded him of home.
And behind every great man … First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. The museum has dedicated a wonderful exhibition honouring the life of Mrs Kennedy, featuring personal artefacts, including several pieces of clothing, and a few of her personal sketches:
Included is the Christian Dior red wool dress which Mrs Kennedy wore for her televised tour of the White House:
JFK had a real passion for golf and would play whenever he could. It offered solace, and a few hours of peace with the great outdoors he cherished.
One of JFK doodles…with a maritime theme of course!:
Kennedy’s 25-foot Wianno Senior sailboat Victura is on display on the grounds of the Library from May to October. It was acquired by the family when Kennedy was 15 years-old. Unfortunately we missed it on our visit.
For further information, please visit: www.jfklibrbary.org
To purchase a copy of John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life 1917 – 1963 visit here
All images by CELLOPHANELAND*