Monday, August 17, 2009

Boston: JFK Library


As part of our short stay in Boston, we visited the John F. Kennedy Library on Monday morning. This was the first presidential library either of us has been to so we didn’t know what to expect. There are just under 20 presidential libraries. Over half are administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the rest are operated by private foundations, societies, or state governments.

The JFK Library is just a few minutes outside of Boston on Columbia Point next to the rather lonely-looking University of Massachusetts. The JFK Library was designed by I.M. Pei and looks a heck of a lot like the University of Rochester’s Wilson Commons.

Once inside the library, you pretty much follow a prescribed route. You watch a 20 minute film about JFK’s life leading up to his decision to run in 1960. Then you exit the film and tour the exhibits walking chronologically through them starting with the campaign for presidency. Overall the library was interesting and informative, a definite recommend, even if you are Republican. (I swear our next presidential library visit is going to be of a Republican president, maybe Nixon.)

The one thing that struck us the most was the part of the exhibit dealing with the campaign for the presidency and the battle between Nixon and JFK. There was an eerie “sameness” to the talking points between left/right used then and what is used today. (Note, the library didn’t really portray one candidate in a better light – but just gave the facts.) Just listening to clips of the debates and reading the campaign material you can’t help but get the impression that with minor word choices the same talking points could be used today. Oh, wait, they probably are.
JFK Library Floor Plan

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