"I'll be a wife and mother first, then First Lady." — Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy

About the Exhibit

President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive at National Guard Armory for Inaugural Ball, 20 January 1961.

This exhibit highlights Jacqueline Kennedy’s early life, as well as her substantive achievements as First Lady. Her contributions to the field of historic preservation, her advocacy for the arts, and her role as an effective cultural ambassador are illustrated in this exhibit, which includes an interactive screen focusing on Jacqueline Kennedy's work as First Lady, highlighting other items from the collection not currently on display.

Particular attention is given to her work in restoring the White House and in developing its collection of art and historical furnishings. The display includes photographs, video footage of her televised tour of the White House and international travels, her artwork and clothing.

On January 20, 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy took the oath of office to become the nation's 35th President. At age thirty-one, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy had become the third youngest First Lady in our history. With her gracious personal style and her passion for history and the arts she worked hard to be worthy of her new role. Her first major project was the historical restoration of the White House. She created a White House Fine Arts Committee to guide and authenticate the work, created the White House Historical Society, the post of White House curator, oversaw publication of a guidebook for visitors, and established the White House Library and the Rose Garden. Once Mrs. Kennedy's restoration of the White House was nearly complete, she hosted a television TV tour broadcasted by CBS to more than 50 million Americans in February of 1962, the video of the White House tour is part of the exhibit. 

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy also accompanied her husband on state visits to Canada, Puerto Rico, France, Austria, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Columbia. She also traveled to Pakistan and India. Her interest in the cultures of the countries she visited and her fluency in languages made her a popular around the world. A selection of the dresses worn during these state visits are on display.

Exhibit Highlights

JBK Red Woolen Suit

View the First Lady Exhibit Slideshow