Going into the next day of this trip to the New England area, I would be joined later in the day by my friend Phillip (of the Australia trip from last year). While it wasn’t yet certain when he would arrive due to his having to see what open seats were available with his flight benefits from work, this gave me a bit of time to do a bit more exploring, and as I had plans to make another credit stop South of Boston, I decided to make a stop on the way to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The museum’s location on Columbia Point offers some wonderful views of Massachusetts Bay and of the Boston Skyline back up to the North. Outside they also have Kennedy’s sailboat that he used recreationally in the summer months in his younger years.
Upon entrance to the Library building, once you purchase your ticket for admission, you go into the waiting area that leads into one of two theaters that gives background to JFK’s life leading up to his efforts to become President of the United States. In this waiting area, you can see artifacts from his school days and his time with the Navy during World War II.
After the introductory video, you enter into the main exhibit about Kennedy and his presidency. The first section is dedicated to his campaign against Richard Nixon, with artifacts from the campaign and displays to provide insight to the election itself, such as the way this election would change future presidential elections because it was the first where the debate between candidates was televised.
From there, it leads then to an area that focuses on his inauguration. Along with a video showing his famous inaugural speech, they have on display a printed copy of the speech, as well as the family Bible used for when he took the oath of office.
A large portion of the museum focuses on his time in office as president, and the different accomplishments and difficulties he faced. As a tribute to his focus on the space race with the Soviet Union, the museum has on display the Freedom 7 capsule, in which Alan Shepard rode in to become the first American in space. There is also a video room where you can watch a presentation about the Cuban Missile Crisis, which features actual recordings from the White House of Kennedy and his advisors discussing the circumstances, and gives a timeline of events with this missile scare and how they handled the situation. There are also artifacts that include gifts from dignitaries of other nations who visited Kennedy while he was in office, bills and treaties that he had signed, and the desk he used as president while in the Oval Office.
There are also sections dedicated to his wife and First Lady, Jacqueline, along with his brother, Robert, who served as the Attorney General. For Jackie’s section, there are several of the dresses that she was famous for wearing, and Robert’s focused on his accomplishments and his role as the Attorney General.
One of the sections that does not have much in the way of displays or artifacts is the hallway that is about his death. In this hallway you will find the date painted on the wall, and a couple of video screens on a loop with the breaking news announcement from Walter Cronkite about making the announcement of Kennedy’s death, and a few moments from the memorial service for his assassination. On one hand, I had expected that there would have been more about this moment, especially given all of the attention on it along with the vast amount of research to try and investigate what had actually occurred. On the other hand, I can understand that as this museum was built and designed to focus on Kennedy and his time as president, and I would imagine that the family had a say in the design of the museum and what was shown, and would not want this charter of their lives and his to be a major focal point.
The final section of the main exhibit focuses on his legacy and some of the different moments and accomplishments that are attributed to his influence. Accomplishments such as continued efforts in the space race and putting man on the moon, or the eventual fall of communism in the Soviet Union as displayed with a piece of the Berlin Wall.
There was also a special exhibit called JFK 100 – Milestones and Memories. Inside of this exhibit was a wide range or artifacts from his life, ranging from everyday items such as his clothing and accessories, his driver’s license, furniture from the White House, and even a typed copy of the speech he was going to give in Dallas the day that he was assassinated. There was also an American Flag that was on the ship he served on during World War II which had suffered damage as the ship had been attacked.
Of course, no good museum is complete without a gift shop. The shop at the JFK Library and Museum featured a variety of items for Kennedy himself, along with a variety of items for the other presidents of the United States as well.
And the concludes our look at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. It was incredibly fascinating to learn more about the former president. There was quite a bit that I was not aware of about Kennedy such as his prior service in the Navy in World War II. I would strongly encourage making a stop at this museum as part of a visit to the Boston area as there is a wealth of things to see inside.
Up next, we head South to visit the next park of the trip. A park that I feel like has a lot of potential!