About the Exhibit
Gift-giving between foreign leaders is an important part of international relations. President and First Lady Mrs. Kennedy received gifts from 106 different Heads of State from all over the world. On display are a selection of these ceremonial gifts that were presented to the Kennedy White House as symbols of diplomacy in an exhibit that recreates the White House corridor.
The exchange of gifts among heads of state is a centuries-old tradition, and remains a part of the culture of modern-day international relations. President and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy delighted in the gifts presented to them by representatives of countries around the globe, particularly items which showcased the fine work of a foreign country’s craftsmen. In both the Oval Office and the rooms of the White House, the president and first lady would display such gifts for visitors to enjoy.
As the gifts that U.S. presidents received started to become more extravagant, a rule was enacted to ensure there was no impression of impropriety. The Foreign Gifts and Declarations Act of 1966 put a limit to the value of a gift a president could accept, with most gifts going directly to the National Archives after being presented.