Nostalgia and education collide at this absorbing waterfront museum, which is dedicated to one of the most beloved presidents in American history.
Delve into the life and times of Boston’s favorite son at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, an educational center and moving monument to the 35th president of the United States of America. Explore fascinating exhibits on Kennedy’s life and the unique challenges he faced in office, and reflect on the abiding power of his life and legacy.
Before his death, John F. Kennedy wanted to found a presidential library in Cambridge, Massachusetts near Harvard, his alma mater. Here he would keep an office in retirement, store his presidential records and carry forward his interest in bridging the gap between the worlds of academia and public affairs.
After JFK’s tragic assassination in 1963, the Kennedy Library Corporation gave a large grant to Harvard to found the Institute of Politics; meanwhile, the Kennedy Presidential Library was moved to a waterfront site in Dorchester, with panoramic views of Boston and the Harbor Islands. The relatively unknown architect, I. M. Pei, was selected from a very competitive pool because Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis found his design exciting. Judge the stark, bold, modernist structure for yourself as you approach.
Begin your library visit with a short film, narrated through an uncanny miracle of audiovisual editing by JFK himself. The film describes Kennedy’s childhood and education, his experiences during the war and the beginnings of his political career.
Move to the well-curated permanent and temporary exhibits of a variety of subject matter related to the Kennedy presidency. Topics range from his presidential campaign trail in 1960, when he battled against the sitting vice president Richard Nixon with the pledge to “get America moving again” through to his role in the Space Race and the Bay of Pigs invasion. Don’t miss the display dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, which covers her remarkable life as an arts advocate, an international ambassador and a style icon.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is accessible by car or by a combination of subway and free shuttle bus. Free parking is available on site. The Library also functions as an educational center. Check online for exhibition schedules.