The Smithsonian joins the nationwide celebration of the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963) on the centennial of his birth. The Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibition, American Visionary: John F. Kennedy's Life and Times, is on view May 3 to September 17, 2017. The National Museum of American History is displaying nine photographs by photographer Richard Avedon of the 35th President and his family within the American Presidency exhibition May 25 to August 27, 2017. The National Portrait Gallery features a portrait in the "Celebrate" space May 19 to July 9, 2017.
In 1960, Kennedy, then a senator from Massachusetts, defeated opponent Richard Nixon to become the 35th and youngest elected president. The country was entranced by his charisma, his stylish wife, Jackie and their two small children—the first young family to live in the White House since Theodore Roosevelt 60 years before. Kennedy’s agenda promised new opportunities in an age of accelerating challenges. Yet his initiatives and reforms for containing the Cold War, increasing civil rights, and exploring space never came to fruition during his presidency, which was curtailed by an assassin’s bullet. Still, his legacy lives on in such programs as the Peace Corps and space exploration when, in 1969, Americans walked on the moon.