John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated to the memory of our nation’s thirty-fifth president and to all those who through the art of politics seek a new and better world. Located on a ten-acre park, overlooking the sea that he loved and the city that launched him to greatness, the Library stands as a vibrant tribute to the life and times of John F. Kennedy. Come tour our Museum which portrays the life, leadership, and legacy of President Kennedy, conveys his enthusiasm for politics and public service, and illustrates the nature of the office of the President.  Students and scholars can also arrange to conduct research using our collection of historical materials chronicling mid-20th century politics and the life and administration of John F. Kennedy.

President Kennedy exhibits, videos & research collections in a striking I.M. Pei–designed building. Perched at the end of Columbia Point, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum is set in a stunning spot overlooking Boston Harbour. Dedicated to the memory of the 35th President of the US, it is home to lots of amazing artifacts and exhibits on his life and legacy with three theaters that show educational films also located on-site.

First opened to the public in 1979, it occupies a marvelous modern building made out of marble that was specially designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei. Aside from exploring its light and airy galleries full of personal memorabilia, photos and press clippings, you can also learn about his time in the Oval Office and important issues and moments that shaped his presidency.

History Overview

The Presidential Library system formally began in 1939 when President Franklin Roosevelt donated his personal and presidential papers to the Federal Government. At the same time, President Roosevelt pledged part of his estate at Hyde Park to the United States, and friends of the President formed a private, non-profit corporation to raise funds for the construction of the library and museum building.

Following the example of the Roosevelt Library, all succeeding presidential libraries have been constructed with private funds. Private, non-profit organizations have been formed to coordinate these efforts and continue to provide support for presidential library programs. Once a presidential library has been constructed, the National Archives and Records Administration assumes responsibility for its operation and maintenance, in accordance with the Presidential Libraries™ Acts of 1955 and 1986.

On September 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy wrote the Archivist of the United States to ask him to consult with White House staff and representatives of Harvard University concerning establishment of a Presidential library in Cambridge, Massachusetts. President Kennedy announced then that he would follow precedents set by Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower, and give his papers and memorabilia to the National Archives for a Presidential Library.

A month before his death, President Kennedy visited Cambridge, Massachusetts, and chose a site next to Harvard University for the Library. It was to be the place where the records of his Presidency could be kept and where he would have his office when he retired from public life.

Plans for the Kennedy Library began to take shape in December 1963, when members of President Kennedy’s family met with several of his closest associates to discuss a suitable memorial. While many suggestions were offered by people in all parts of the country, Mrs. Kennedy and the other members of President Kennedy’s family decided that the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum should be the only official national memorial to the President.

They also agreed that the project should have three parts: a Museum, an Archive, and an educational Institute that would carry forward President Kennedy’s interest in bridging the gap between the academic world and the world of public affairs.

The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Inc.—a private, non-profit corporation—was chartered in Massachusetts on December 5, 1963, to construct and equip a library in Massachusetts to house and preserve the papers and historical materials of John F. Kennedy and his associates, and to transfer title of these to the United States as elements of a Presidential archival depository.

Among the Corporation’s many responsibilities were the raising and management of all building funds, the selection of the Library site, the appointment of the architect and exhibit designers, the selection of the general contractor, and the actual supervision of all construction.

Principals in the original Corporation were Robert F. Kennedy, Stephen Smith, Robert McNamara, Douglas Dillon, and Arthur

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