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JFK at the ALPLM
Date & Time
2/15/19 - 5/19/19
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

An exhibition of photographs tracing John F. Kennedy’s private life and public trajectory opens at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on Feb. 15. Some are iconic images of Camelot, while many have rarely been seen before. “American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times” shows Kennedy as a joyful boy playing in the ocean and a troubled president working in the Oval Office, as a public figure adored by crowds and a father alone with his baby daughter. Jacqueline Kennedy is there, too – as a happy bride, an elegant first lady and a heartbroken widow.

The exhibition, one of the most exhaustively researched collections of Kennedy photos ever assembled, runs through May 19. It brings together images from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Getty Images, private collections, and the Kennedy family archives. Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, called the exhibit “a wonderful snapshot of JFK’s life.”

“We are honored to bring ‘American Visionary’ to Springfield,” Lowe said. “Not only are the photos wonderful, but they offer a chance to reflect on a man who, like Abraham Lincoln, served his nation in a time of great challenge and gave his life in that service.” There is no extra fee to see the exhibition. It will be included in regular ALPLM admission prices. 

The exhibition is based on the book “JFK: A Vision for America” by Stephen Kennedy Smith and Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who contributes frequently to CNN and the New York Times. Brinkley will speak at the presidential library on April 12. The topic will be his latest book, “American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race." “American Visionary” was organized and curated by Lawrence Schiller of Wiener Schiller. Schiller, a noted photographer, writer and director, will be taking part in a special preview Feb. 13. The free preview, which runs 6:30-8:30 p.m., is open to members of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. To become a member, visit www.ALPLM.org.

Another special event takes place Feb. 19. In “Fact vs. Fiction: Lincoln and Kennedy,” two historians will examine the supposedly “eerie” coincidences between the assassinated presidents and explain which ones have some significance, which are random chance and which have simply been made up. Kennedy’s administration coincided with a golden age of photojournalism in America. Photographers such as Ed Clark, Lisl Steiner, Ralph Crane and Steve Schapiro captured the optimism and challenges of the early 1960s in some of the finest and most vivid images of the period.

Highlights of “American Visionary” include:

- a 1953 photo booth snapshot of the Kennedy newlyweds, possibly taken on their honeymoon
- a candid 1958 photograph of Kennedy playing with his baby daughter, Caroline, in her bassinet
- a 1960 photograph of people peering at Kennedy through the window as he prepares for a campaign speech
- a 1961 photograph of the First Couple and others heading to Kennedy’s inauguration ceremony, with the White House blanketed in snow
- a haunting photograph of the first lady departing the White House on the day of Kennedy’s state funeral in 1963.
“John F. Kennedy is still seen as a symbol around the world, representing and espousing the best and most universal elements of the American character,” said Stephen Kennedy Smith, Kennedy’s nephew and co-editor of “JFK: A Vision for America.” “It is our hope that the compelling images of President Kennedy’s life and work on view in this exhibition will remind visitors not only of the values that defined his presidency, but also will introduce him to new audiences and future leaders.”

The presidential library and museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.  Visitors can see ghosts come to life on stage, watch TV coverage of the 1860 presidential election, roam through the Lincoln White House, experience booming cannons in a Civil War battle and come face to face with priceless original Lincoln artifacts. The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
112 N 6th St.
Springfield, IL