The First Family in Hyannis Port, Mass., in 1960
The New York Public Library is launching a letter-perfect memorial to a beloved fallen President.
To mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death on Friday, the New York Public Library on Wednesday will open a free pop-up exhibit depicting the national mourning following his assassination.
Called “ ‘Dearest Jackie’: On the Death of JFK” and named for a letter of condolence written to the distraught First Lady, the exhibit converts a corner of the Schwarzman Building at the library’s main branch into a shrine to collective grief.
“We all have memories of this heartbreaking event,” says Vickie Steele, the library’s director of collections. “This beautiful young couple and the fate of the nation dashed in one moment.”
The exhibit is built around a poignant letter by the President’s close aide Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy just after the assassination.
“Dearest Jackie,” writes Schlesinger, “the love and grief of a nation may do something to suggest the feeling of terrible vacancy and despair we all feel.”
The show, which includes art and historical items from various divisions of the library, also features an Andy Warhol print from his series “Flash — Nov. 22, 1963,” as well as a photograph of Jackie Kennedy at the funeral by Elliott Erwitt and a Robert Rauschenberg lithograph.
The library’s Kennedy collection is still growing.
Thanks to social media, those who remember this pivotal moment in American history can share their stories at Facebook.com/nypl starting tomorrow.
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building , Fifth Ave . & 42nd St . Wednesday through Dec . 1. Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sundays: 1-5 p.m. Free.
Arthur Schlesinger’s letter of condolence to Jackie Kennedy after the assassination