Overlooking the sea in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum documents the life and legacy of President Kennedy. The building holds official presidential documents and correspondence, a wealth of multimedia exhibits and artifacts, and literary gems such as some unpublished writings of Ernest Hemingway.
Designed by architect I.M. Pei, this striking concrete and glass building sits on a scenic 10-acre (4-hectare) park on Columbia Point, which offers panoramic views of Boston Harbor and the Boston city skyline. Inside, you can peruse 25 immersive multimedia exhibits that cover topics such as President Kennedy’s experience on the campaign trail, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race, and the Kennedy family. The museum’s art collection is also a must-see, featuring personal momentos such as a 1962 portrait of Robert F. Kennedy, a watercolor of the White House painted by Jacqueline Kennedy that once hung in the Oval Office, and a finger painting made by young Caroline Kennedy.
You can get free entry to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum with a Go Boston Card or Boston Explorer Pass. These also include access to other city highlights such as the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the New England Aquarium.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The on-site JFK Café boasts views of the Boston city skyline and provides a family-friendly setting for breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day.
- Coat check service is not available, but there is a public coat rack for visitors to use.
- The museum is accessible to wheelchair users. Wheelchairs are offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.
How to Get There
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is accessible via Interstate 93, and is roughly five miles (eight kilometers) from downtown Boston. There is a large, free parking lot located directly in front of the building. Alternatively take the MBTA Rapid Transit Red Line to JFK/UMASS Station; from there, a free shuttle bus goes to the library every 20 minutes starting at 8am.
When to Get There
The JFK Museum is open year-round, with the exception of New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. Summer is the busiest season, when you can dine outside at the café and enjoy stunning views from Columbia Point. Spring and fall often bring mild weather and smaller crowds. Between May and October, Kennedy’s 26-foot (8-meter) sailboat Victura is on display in the museum.
The library’s location was of special significance to the president, who spent his upperclassman years nearby at the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Although the president chose the original site of the building in 1963, he was assassinated before construction began. The Kennedy family then chose relatively unknown architect I.M. Pei to design the building, which was dedicated in 1979.