NOVEMBER 11, 2013 – On Nov. 22, 1963, the nation was stunned by the horrifying assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The expressions of grief that followed took every possible form, from heartfelt personal tributes to grand, grave public displays.
To mark the 50th anniversary of that day – one of the darkest days in United States history – The New York Public Library has brought together a small selection of items from its collections that depict the nation’s grief for the free display, “Dearest Jackie”: On The Death of JFK. The pop up exhibition will be at the Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street from Nov. 20 until Dec. 1 in the third floor McGraw Rotunda.
The items being displayed include:
- A poignant letter of condolence to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy from her husband’s close aide Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The letter begins “Dearest Jackie,” and was written on the evening of the assassination.
- One of 14 prints in artist Andy Warhol’s Flash – Nov. 22, 1963 series, which incorporated newspaper and television images connected with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Warhol’s image vividly conveys the excitement around Kennedy’s presidency and the ensuing horror of his assassination.
- A gelatin silver print of Jacqueline Kennedy at her husband’s funeral in Arlington, Virginia, taken by Elliott Erwitt. The image is one of the most heart-wrenching depictions of the devastated First Lady.
- Ark, a lithograph by Robert Rauschenberg, which prominently includes a picture of President Kennedy amongst other unrelated images. Dante’s journey through Hell and the dark halo of lithographic marks that surround the president help to convey the country’s mood in the aftermath of the assassination.
The objects in the exhibition come from several divisions of the Library, including Manuscripts and Archives, The Print and Photography Collections of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, and the Spencer Collection.
In addition to the display of items, the Library will also be collecting stories from the public about where they were when the tragic events occurred, and what they remember about Nov. 22, 1963. The public can submit these stories starting Nov. 20 at the Library’s Facebook page at facebook.com/nypl.
"As we are all reflecting on one of the most pivotal events of our times, the tragic death of John F. Kennedy, the Library is eager to inform and inspire public deliberation by presenting these historic artifacts/documents," said NYPL President Tony Marx. "The items featured each help capture how JFK changed the nation, and how his loss broke our collective hearts."
"Dearest Jackie”: On the Death of JFK will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Note that the Library will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving.
Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman.
About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 91 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.