history

Presidential Pathways: John F. Kennedy Library

Prior to his death, John F. Kennedy explored potential sites for his presidential library in Boston around the campus of his alma mater, Harvard University.  He had wanted a library to be built near an academic institution to increase scholarly use of the facility.  However, following his death resident of Cambridge objected to the construction of the library because of the perceived negative impact on the community.

Eventually, a location on Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood was chosen.  Construction of the facility began in August 1977 and was completed two years later.  The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum was dedicated on Oct. 20, 1979.  In 1993, a new museum opened as part of the facility that overlooks Boston, Dorchester Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

A special exhibit titled “Young Jack” was on display during my visit in April 2017.

The first permanent exhibit is “1960 Presidential Election.”

A special installation titled “Freedom 7 Space Capsule” is part of the permanent “Lift Off! The U.S. Space Program” exhibit.

U.S. Navy Commander Alan B. Shepherd Jr. piloted Freedom 7 during the first American manned flight in space.

The “White House Corridor” exhibit features a variety of gifts from heads of state.

Pope Paul VI gave Kennedy a replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta.

Robert Kennedy’s tenure as Attorney General is incorporated into the museum as the “Robert Kennedy’s Attorney General Office” exhibit.

“The Oval Office” exhibit replicates the office during his presidency.  The exhibit features film footage from 1963 that relates to the civil rights movement.

The museum also features an exhibit focused on the legacy of First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

Some of Kennedy’s most famous words are preserved on a note card from a speech in 1963.

“State Visit to Europe” exhibit preserves Kennedy’s trip to Europe during the summer of 1963. A note card from Kennedy’s speech in West Berlin in front of the Berlin Wall on June 26, 1963.

Rotunda following the hallway retelling President Kennedy’s assassination.

A portion of the Berlin Wall commemorating Kennedy’s 1963 address in West Berlin.

The tour of the John F. Kennedy Library concludes with visitors entering the Profile in Courage Plaza.

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