The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family | Photographs by Richard Avedon


The Kennedys | Portrait of a Family: Photographs by Richard Avedon

Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

John Kennedy and daughter Caroline. Photos by Richard Avedon | Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Photographic History Collection On January 3, 1961, elite fashion photographer Richard Avedon, on assignment for Harper’s Bazaar and Look magazines, unpacked his portable studio in the Palm Beach, FL, family compound of president-elect John F. Kennedy. Over the next several hours Avedon took candid and posed portraits of the young president-to-be, his elegant wife, and their adorable children. Combining elements of fashion and art photography, Avedon sought to capture the essence of the Kennedys at their finest.

Avedon created a single edition of the Harper’s Bazaar images and in 1966, a mere three years after the assassination that rocked the world, donated the prints and negatives to Smithsonian’s newly opened Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History, NMAH). For the first time, images from this photo shoot are on view in their entirety. Available only to select venues, The Kennedys | Portrait of a Family, an exhibition developed by NMAH and circulated by SITES, showcases Avedon’s beautiful photos of the “picture perfect” first family. Text panels offer additional insight into Avedon’s career and approach as well as the technical aspects of photography and magazine production.

“Of all the photographs in the Photographic History Collection,” says Shannon Thomas Perich, exhibition curator and associate curator of the collection, “these poignant and stirring photographs never fail to trigger memories, generate conversation, and make visitors recognize that they themselves are part of American history.”

Jackie Kennedy with newborn son, John, Jr. Photos by Richard Avedon | Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Photographic History Collection Accompanying the exhibition is a companion book by Perich, The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family/Richard Avedon (Collins Design, 2007), with a foreword by Kennedy historian Robert Dallek.

The exhibition was created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Bering Center, and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

The exhibition is supported by the Rudolf Eickemeyer Jr. Fund and Collins Design, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. The exhibition and national tour were sponsored by HISTORY™. History Logo

>>Interview with exhibiton curator on Good Morning America

>>Interview on SITES' blog

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Kennedy exhibition specifications

Contents Approximately 27 framed photographs (9 large images and 18 enlarged contact sheets) in archival framing, text panels, and labels
Supplemental Companion book, educational and promotional resources
Participation Fee

$14,000 per 8-week booking period, plus prorated shipping

Size 120 running feet      
Crates 4
Security High
Shipping Prorated
SITES Contacts Minnie Russell, 202.633.3160 (Scheduling)
Jeff Thompson, 202.633.3106 (Content)
Toured through October 2010
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Kennedy tour itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
4/11/09 6/7/09 Riverside Metropolitan Museum, Riverside, CA Booked
11/22/09 1/24/10 Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN Booked
4/17/10 7/18/10 Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA Booked
8/7/10 10/31/10 Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton, NJ Booked
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Kennedy related publications

The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family/Richard Avedon by Shannon Thomas Perrich, Collins Design, 2007. Hardcover.

In the early 1960s, Richard Avedon was commissioned by Harper's Bazaar to create Observations, a column that consisted of a series of nine photographic essays. The subject of the first essay was John F. Kennedy and his young family, who sat for formal black-and-white portraits just three weeks prior to Kennedy's presidential inauguration. Six images appeared in the magazine's February 1961 issue. (Amazon review).

>> Order this book from the Smithsonian Store

The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family book cover
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Kennedy press release
None listed at this time. Please check back later.  
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Exhibition Specifications

Tour Itinerary

Exhibition Images

Related Publications

Press Release

More Exhibitions from SITES


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