September 23, 2022

Permanent Exhibition Completed, Part of Ongoing Work at the Kennedy Center

“Art and Ideals: President John F. Kennedy” exhibit at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Photo: Alan Karchmer/OTTO

On September 8, 2022 the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts unveils its new permanent exhibit, “Art and Ideals: President John F. Kennedy.” Led by KieranTimberlake, this exhibit was deemed by the organization's leadership to be a high-priority initiative in the updating of the Center's public spaces.

Located on the roof level at the heart of the original Edward Durell Stone building, the 7,500-sq. ft. former Atrium space has been renovated and repurposed to house the new exhibit. The firm began formally planning for the new exhibit in the summer of 2020.  
"We are honored to lead the design of this new exhibit at the Kennedy Center," says Partner Stephen Kieran. "Working with the Center and a group of prominent historians, our comprehensive planning process allowed us to arrive at a rich and compelling narrative from which to design the exhibit." 
KieranTimberlake will continue to work with the Center on the updating of the public spaces in the upcoming years. The focus of the new exhibit was to enhance the Center's dual role as both the national home for the performing arts and the national memorial to President John F. Kennedy. As a living memorial that celebrates President Kennedy's legacy for present and future visitors, this new exhibit lays the groundwork that will continue the themes of creating a connected campus, fostering a culture of openness, setting a new standard for memorialization, encouraging all visitors to stay and return, and becoming a vibrant public square.  
The exhibit was designed and produced in collaboration with Pentagram, the distinguished international design consultancy. Pentagram partner Abbott Miller served as creative director, working with an advisory committee of leading U.S. historians to establish the focus of the story. The designers developed a combination of images, artifacts, media, and interactives that relate Kennedy's ideals to aspects of the Kennedy Center's ongoing work. 
Opening as the Center concludes its 50th Anniversary season, the flagship exhibit will honor JFK's legacy and celebrate his commitment to the arts for generations to come. The exhibit is divided into 4 key areas, each exploring a primary theme of Kennedy's presidency, relating the arts to: democracy, social change, The White House, and culture. 

Photo: Alan Karchmer/OTTO

Visitors at the Dinner at the White House interactive. Photo: Alan Karchmer/OTTO

Visitors at the Dynamic Portraiture interactive. Photo: Alan Karchmer/OTTO

Visitors at the Power of Words interactive. Photo: Alan Karchmer/OTTO