John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum facts for kids

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The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library and museum of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, (1917-1963), 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 at Boston, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, and the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum. Designed by the architect I. M. Pei, the building is the official repository for original papers and correspondence of the Kennedy Administration, as well as special bodies of published and unpublished materials, such as books and papers by and about Ernest Hemingway.

Every United States President since Hervert Hoover (1929-1933) has had a Presidential Library established after his service. All are run in conjunction with the National Archives, to house various records and documents pertaining to a given president's term(s). The Kennedy Library is the only Presidential library in New England, commemorating the first US President of Irish and/or Roman Catholic background.

The library and Museum were dedicated in 1979 by 39th President Jimmy Carter and members of the Kennedy family. It can be reached from nearby Interstate 93 or via shuttle bus or walk from the JFK/UMass stop on the Boston Subway's Red Line.

Dedication

President Kennedy with ice cream cone, 31 August 1963
President Kennedy with ice cream cone, 31 August 1963. Photo located at JFK library and museum

The official dedication was held on October 20, 1979. Outside the building on the green, on a blue-carpeted stage with a bank of yellow chrysanthemums sat the Kennedy family and those close to them. Among many others, President Jimmy Carter was in their company. The ceremony began with President Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, introducing her brother, John F. Kennedy, Jr., who read from the Stephen Spender poem, I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great.

President Carter said of John F. Kennedy that he embodied "the ideals of a generation as few public figures have ever done in the history of the earth." Afterwards, he accepted the library "on behalf of the American people" and the National Archives and Records Administration.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, said of his brother's life, that 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."

Exhibits and collection

The library's first floor features a museum containing video monitors, family photographs, political memorabilia. Visitors to the museum begin their visit by watching a film narrated by President Kennedy in one of two cinemas that show an orientation film, and a third shows a documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The are seven permanent exhibits:

  • Campaign Trail – Exhibit on the presidential campaign of 1960 and New Frontier, featuring 1960 Democratic National Convention memorabilia, and a replica of a Kennedy campaign office.
  • The Briefing Room – Exhibit on Kennedy's speeches and press conferences.
  • The Space Race – Exhibit on the Space Race and the U.S. space program during Project Mercury; features the Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7) space capsule in which astronaut Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space. The capsule, which was displayed at the United States Naval Academy's Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center from 1998 to 2012, came to the JFK Library in 2012, and will return to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
  • Attorney General's Office – Exhibit on Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, President Kennedy's brother and closest political advisor. Features 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 Oval Office – Exhibit features information on the American Civil Rights Movement during the Kennedy presidency, items that Kennedy kept in the Oval Office, and a replica of the Resolute desk.
  • First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy – Exhibit on the life of First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy; features footage of the First Lady and artifacts from her life, include several pieces of clothing.
  • The Kennedy Family – This exhibit on the famous Kennedy family features a number of artifacts, including Kathleen Kennedy's Red Cross uniform jacket, a commemorative cup, a blackthorn walking stick, and a replica of the Great Mace of Galway, Ireland.
John F Kennedy sailboat Victura at Kennedy LibraryIMG 20160510 141846009 HDRc
The sailboat Victura and the exterior of the Library

Among the Library's art collection is a 1962 portrait of Robert F. Kennedy by Lajos Markos, a watercolor sketch of John F. Kennedy by Jamie Wyeth, a watercolor painting of the White House painted by Jacqueline Kennedy and given as a gift to her husband, who had it hung in the Oval Office, a fingerpainting by Caroline Kennedy as a child, and a bust of John F. Kennedy sculpted by Felix de Weldon.

Kennedy's 25-foot Wianno Senior sailboat Victura is on display on the grounds of the Library from May to October. Acquired by the family when Kennedy was 15, it played an important role in forging sibling bonds and, after the president's death, continued being sailed by other members of the family, especially race-enthusiast brother Ted.

The Library has a variety of temporary and special exhibits. The audiovisual archives contain over 400,000 still photographs taken from 1863–1984, over 7.5 million feet of film shot between 1910–83, and 11,000 reels of audio recordings from 1910–85.

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