John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

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Address : Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125, United States

Location : Near University of Massachusetts Boston

Size : 10 acres

Architect : I.M.Pei

Named For : John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Start of Construction : 1977

Dedicated : 1979

Timings : 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Closed On : Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day

Exhibits : The Kennedy Family, The Oval Office, The Space Room, The Briefing Room, Campaign Trail, First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy etc.

Artwork on Display : Robert F. Kennedy’s portrait, John F. Kennedy’s watercolour sketch, the White House’s watercolour painting, Caroline Kennedy’s fingerpainting, John F. Kennedy’s bust, John F. Kennedy’s Wianno Senior sailboat Victura etc.

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John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston Overview

Built for the country’s 35th President, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is situated at Columbia Point in Boston. It was dedicated to late John F. Kennedy in 1979 by Jimmy Carter and Kennedy family members and houses many documents, books, artefacts, artwork etc. and is open to the public 7 days a week.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum was built for the 35th President of the United States and the construction for the same began in the year 1977. Located in Dorchester, Boston, close to the University of Massachusetts at Boston, it happens to be a part of the Presidential Library System and one of the 13 libraries across the nation that are managed by the Office of Presidential Libraries. The structure was designed primarily by architect I.M.Pei and is home to a number of official papers, correspondences, published and unpublished works like books, artwork, artefacts and multiple exhibits, all of which belonged to or had something to do with the Kennedy Administration or the Kennedy Family.

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The Construction of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and its Dedication

Following the setbacks, I.M. Pei chose another site for the Library, a garbage dump in Boston’s Dorchester neighbourhood. Its groundbreaking work began in 1977 and the construction in 1978. The structure that came up had a glass pavilion, a tower that was 125 feet tall, for offices and archives and a circular section connected to it, for two theatres. It had a concrete finish and led the architect to believe that more money would have allowed him to use stone instead.

The official dedication took place in 1979 on the lawn outside the building, with the stage carpeted blue and lined with yellow chrysanthemums. Along with the Kennedy Family, former President Jimmy Carter was present; the family introduced John F. Kennedy’s son while Carter and Senator Edward M. Kennedy spoke of the late former President, his ideals and his life.

About the Archives Found at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

One of the reasons for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum being so popular is that is acts as an archive for a lot that had to do with the late former President and his family. Besides housing art work that was made for or belonged to the Kennedy family and other published/unpublished work, the Library is known for its audiovisual archives, the oral-history project as well as several artefacts.

When it comes to audiovisual archives, there are more than 400,000 still photos dating between 1863 and 1984, 7.5 million feet of film that was shot between 1910 and 1983 as well as 11,000 audio recording reels from between 1910 and 1985.

The oral-history project was an interesting one; it was started in 1964 and was meant to preserve and keep a record of all the interviews that were linked to John F. Kennedy. The project, that continues to this day, includes over 1,100 interviews after having been believed to have 150 participants at the beginning. Somewhat shaped after Columbia University Oral History Research Office’s program, it also included classified information regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis and it is believed that this information was concealed for a while owing to its nature. Many of the transcripts that were released for study might vary from the original interviews because interviewees had the opportunity to go over them and change anything that could be misinterpreted.

What are some of the Popular Exhibits at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum?

Visitors at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum would have the opportunity to see a number of exhibits; some of which are on display at all times, some of which have been taken out and some which are put out at certain times, along with artefacts, and art and written work. The following are some of the exhibits that the Library is known for:
  • Permanent Exhibits: A few of the exhibits on display throughout the year are Young Jack, 1960 Presidential Election, The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy, The Peace Corps, White House Corridor: Gifts from Heads of State, The Oval Office, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy etc.
  • Special Exhibit: Freedom 7 Space Capsule is a special exhibit here at the Library that highlights the nation’s efforts to send people into space and to do it under the Presidency of John F. Kennedy. It consists of the Mercury Space Capsule that US Navy Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr. named Freedom 7 and fit into atop a Redstone rocket, becoming the first American to go into space.
  • Past Exhibits: While these are no longer there to be seen at the Library, JFK 100: Milestones and Mementos, Earnest Hemingway- Between Two Wars, In Her Voice: Jacqueline Kennedy, The White House Years, A Nation Remembers, Moon Shot- JFK And Space Exploration, The Making of the President etc. are some of the exhibits that were major highlights here.
  • Artefacts: There are over 20,000 artefacts that are kept at the Library, out of which some of them belonged to the late President and his family while others were gifts from heads of state. Some of them are Royal Altar Tusk, Sculpture of a Panther, Pen Holder with Ashtrays, John F. Kennedy’s Mosaic portrait, a hand carved wooden chair, the American flag on wood, Ruby Red Suit: Jacket and Skirt, Pink and Gold Evening Dress and Cape, the sculpture of a Royal Imperial head of a young boy etc.

What is the The Earnest Hemingway Collection?

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is where one would find the Earnest Hemingway Collection that contains documents and other belongings from the late American writer and sportsman. It was in 1968 that the collection was set up, following correspondence between Mary, his widow, and Jacqueline Kennedy about the same, and in 1980, Patrick Hemingway and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dedicated a room for the same.

Given the fact that this collection consists of about 90% of Hemingway’s existing manuscript materials, the Library happens to be the most ideal choice for a research center on his life. Some of his work that is housed here includes 1,000 plus manuscripts (handwritten drafts of The Sun Also Rises, alternate endings to A Farewell to Arms etc.), bullfighting research material that was used in Death in the Afternoon and The Dangerous Summer, and letters to or from him, including correspondence with Carlos Baker, Robert Frost, Gertrude Stein etc.

Furthermore, the collection consists of over 10,000 photos, press clippings, ephemera, books from Hemingway’s own collection (many has marginalia), such as a rare copy of Los Proverbios by Francisco Goya.

How to Reach the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

When coming in a car, there is free car as well as motorcoach parking available at the museum for visitors. On the other hand, for those who opt for public transportation, the Red line of the Subway is the best option. It brings passengers till the JFK/UMASS stop and from there they can hop on the #1 shuttle and get down close to the Library, at the blue emergency phone near the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate.

The Planning of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and its Setbacks

In 1963, John F. Kennedy and John Carl Warnecke went to visit different locations in Boston to look for a site suitable for the library and museum, at a time when there were no more than 4 Presidential Libraries (the Hoover Presidential Library, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, the Truman Library, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library). The late former President decided on a site that was near the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and the Winthrop House, with the structure meant to face the Charles River.

Following his death in the same year, his family and friends formed a committee to decide on how to progress with the library’s construction, its architects and also the oral-history project. Given that he was assassinated, there were donations coming in from everywhere in the country and outside too, and ultimately a large amount of money was raised that went towards the construction. Ultimately, I.M. Pei was unanimously chosen as the architect, owing to his various ideas as well as his connection with Mrs. Kennedy.

The site that was chosen was an old train yard and while they were allowed to purchase it, there were many delays, one of them being the MTBA’s reluctance to remove all the heavy machinery until 1970. In fact, the construction hadn’t begun even in 1971, scholars and researchers were forced to do their work elsewhere and President Lyndon B. Johnson managed to build the first Presidential Library meant for scholarly work.

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