JFK Jr. Exhibit Planned for 20th Year Death Anniversary

HYANNIS – When it comes to the Kennedys, it’s impossible to ignore the family’s dominance of the American political landscape.

What also can’t be ignored is the series of tragic deaths in the family that were in lockstep with the Kennedy’s power, wealth and fame.

Coinciding with the 20-year anniversary of his death, the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is ushering in a new special exhibit commemorating the life of John F. Kennedy Jr. and his connection to Cape Cod through photographs, video, quotes, text and artifacts.

“There’s kind of two chapters of John F. Kennedy Jr. and that’s the young two-to-three year old that people saw and watched, and then there was this grown up John F. Kennedy Jr., who was aspiring and ready to launch his career,” said Museum Executive Director John Allen.

“It’s interesting, that in our preparation for this to find material, there’s not a lot that’s readily out there, it really took some looking. The second part is that many of the articles and images are private. They just never stayed in circulation, so they are very limited and in many cases seldom seen.”

The exhibit, entitled “Cape Cod Remembers JFK Jr.,” will officially open to the public on Monday following a media preview.

The exhibit is arranged chronologically and features images and video footage, some rarely seen, of JFK Jr. alone, and also with his father, John F. Kennedy, his mother, Jackie, and sister, Caroline—as well as playful images in the Oval Office.

“The world knew his name before he did. He really was well heralded before he was visible to the world. More importantly, when you look at the images and videos of the early times, that was like anybody else’s photos,” Allen said.

“This was home and that’s the biggest part for the museum, is to present the Cape connection for the Kennedy family. John Jr. was just a little boy growing up here. We have the picture of he and his dad walking across the street after getting some candy in Hyannis Port or there’s a video of him staring into a power boat on the sound, so it was like anybody’s family weekend.”

The exhibit, which focuses on his time spent on Cape Cod, also tells the story of his adult life, from his marriage to Carolyn Bessette to the launch of George – his glossy lifestyle and political magazine.

The exhibit is curated by museum co-founder Rebecca Pierce-Merrick.

U.S. Senator Paul Kirk will be the featured speaker at the special event. Kirk, appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of Ted Kennedy, served as a United States Senator from Massachusetts from 2009 to 2010.

JFK Jr. was born on November 25, 1960, two weeks after his father was elected president of the United States. From the White House to Hyannis Port during his father’s presidency, and years later, in Manhattan, JFK Jr. remained in the spotlight.

Tragedy struck the Kennedy family yet again on July 16, 1999, when JFK Jr., his wife and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette died in a plane crash off Martha’s Vineyard en route to a Kennedy family wedding.

As his uncle and former U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy said at his funeral: “From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family, but to the American Family.”

The commemorative exhibit invites visitors to remember John F. Kennedy Jr. who, like his father, “had every gift but length of years,” as Ted Kennedy said at his funeral.

In addition to “Cape Cod Remembers JFK Jr.,” the museum offers two other exhibits: “Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe,” which features intimate images of John F. Kennedy and his family; and “JFK at 100: Life & Legacy,” an inspirational journey that takes visitors through various milestones of the 35th president’s life, with a focus on the years he spent on Cape Cod.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center

About Tim Dunn

Tim Dunn is a native of south coast Massachusetts, growing up in the small town of Mattapoisett and now resides in New Bedford. He’s worked in the CapeCod.com News Center covering everything you need to know about on the Cape.

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