The Kennedy Library is the repository of the papers of President Kennedy, and as such it is an important research facility. The Kennedy Museum, which is part of the Library, is a real gem.
The museum is small, human sized, and can be fully enjoyed in an afternoon or morning. Don't cut yourself too short on time - there is a lot to see here.
At the entrance to the museum, pick up a booklet titled "A Great Big Treasure Chest?". This pamphlet is decorated with drawings made by Jackie Kennedy, then Jackie Bouvier, with her sister Lee. The drawings were made in 1951, as a thank you present to their parents after a trip to Europe.
This booklet points out 12 items for you to find as you go through the museum. This treasure hunt gives shape to your exploration, and helps to point out some items you might miss otherwise. One of these treasures is a letter that a 10 year old JFK wrote to his father asking for a raise in his allowance.
There is a short film prior to entrance to the museum, and it is worth watching. Once inside the museum proper, there is a real attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the '50's and '60's - the time when Kennedy was most politically active.
Video plays an important part in this experience. One exhibit has the TV studio set from the famous Nixon-Kennedy debate. A video tape of the debate runs as well, so you can see what all the fuss was about. There is a special theatre dedicated to showing a film about the Cuban missile crisis.
Jackie Kennedy rates several exhibits of her own, and there is a recreation of Robert Kennedy's office, down to replicas of his kids' drawings on the wall.
Some of the items in the Kennedy Museum are truly phenomenal, partly for their historical
significance, but also for their sheer uniqueness: a tea set from Nikita Krushchev, an elephant tusk from Nigeria, the Bible used in JFK's inauguration.
If you remember where you were when you heard that Kennedy was shot, you owe it to yourself to visit here. If you are too young to remember the assassination, come here to give yourself some perspective on why boomers are the way they are.
Warning: Boston is undergoing a major construction project called the Big Dig, and it is expected to last until 2004. (To find out more, go to bigdig.) Traffic tie ups are legendary, and streets are rerouted regularly. DO NOT DRIVE in Boston if you can avoid it. You can get to the Kennedy Library and Museum by taking public transit, called the T. The T is cheap, safe, and convenient. The Kennedy Library is on the Red Line - get off at the JFK Library - UMass stop.
To find out more about the Museum go to jfklibrary.org.)