tv Jacqueline Kennedy Televised White House Tour CSPAN May 30, 2020 12:00pm-12:56pm EDT
♪ >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> next, we revisit first lady jacqueline kennedy's televised white house tour from february 14, 1962, and her extensive restoration of the executive mansion. this 2012 presentation marked the 50th anniversary of her guided tour, watched by millions and later awarded and honorary emmy. a curator talks about her work and the evolution of the white house collection. this video is courtesy of the kennedy library. the audience watched the full
tour, but only a brief clip is shown in the first few minutes of this program. >> good evening and welcome, everyone. i am tom putnam, director of the john f. kennedy presidential library and museum, and on behalf of the executive director of the kennedy library foundation, the board of directors, and all of our colleagues, i think you for joining us this evening. let me first acknowledge the generous underwriters of the forum, boston capital, the local institute, raytheon, the boston foundation, and our media partners. we considered having this forum last night on the actual 50th anniversary of mrs. kennedy's tour but did not want to make any of you having to choose between sharing valentine's day with loved ones or with your friends here at the kennedy library. we are so pleased to have so many of you with us this evening.
50 years ago, jacqueline kennedy introduced herself to the nation. in many ways, the public already knew her from her role as the president's wife, mother of two children, and the woman who charmed world leaders. in 1962, it was a more substantive jacqueline kennedy who guided viewers through the white house, and the nation was transfixed. 46 million americans watched, and an additional 10 million tuned in days later. the reviews were laudatory, describing mrs. kennedy as a virtuoso performer and art critic of subtlety and standard. my favorite anecdote relates to the evening after she had spent the day taping the tour. she and president kennedy watched outtakes with friends. seeing how his wife had clearly outshined him in her portion compared to the final clip in which he appeared, the president
asked cbs if it would be possible to reshoot his segment the following morning. [laughter] essentially, he followed the same script the next day but tried admirably to match his wife's charm, ease, and engaging presence. you can decide how well he does when we watch the clip in a moment. tonight, we watch a portion of the tour and then we will hear from the current white house curator, william allman. it is often said that nice guys finish last, especially in the capital, but bill allman is an exception to that rule. he became curator of the white house in 2002, having served as an assistant and then assistant curator since 1976. no one has done more in recent years to help preserve the white house and its historic collections while also helping to update them to our times. we are delighted he is here with us. after a film, he will give a brief slideshow presentation about the white house, and i will moderate a conversation
with him during which time we welcome your questions. three quick notes -- we will end a bit early to ensure that mr. allman catches his plane back to d.c. you can own your own copy of mrs. kennedy's tour, in our store, which will be open after the forum, and for a limited time, if you make a purchase in the store we are giving away , free copies for the 50th anniversary. this coming weekend cbs sunday , morning will air a story on the white house tour and i hope you all will tune in for that. as you know, mrs. kennedy was one of the founders of this library, and it was her great hope that we would grow and change with the times. i believe our forum, programs and exhibits are guided by her , spirit and i hope live up to the standard she set in her virtuoso performance 50 years ago. let's relive that moment now together.
>> good evening, everybody. ok. what i would like to do for a few minutes is ring a little -- bring a little color to a black-and-white tv show. then some pictures of how the rooms looked when mrs. kennedy was doing it, and then pictures of how the rooms have changed since that time. i think mrs. kennedy would have been the first person to say to everyone that what she was doing was a first step, when she was asking people to donate things, maybe the best things were not offered at the time, but when you had nothing you took what was offered. there have been improvements and growth in the collection, and that is what she expected every first family to do, to contribute to the house, remaining a museum and growing
and becoming more interesting to the public. you can see the white house, and a picture of mrs. kennedy during the televised taping, a still picture showing her in the blue room. one of the things the president talked about is the people who came to visit, 1.3 million people in 1961. it wasn't so much that the tour kicked off interest in the white house, mrs. kennedy had already attracted public attention. she got in 1961, congress to pass a law she mentioned, which did not just protect the collection, but established the museum character of the white house must be maintained in perpetuity. it still has to function as a house for the family and the secret service has a lot of say about security issues, but the museum character is what she was so interested in grasping.
then she created the curator's , office in 1961, with the idea that you needed a professional staff to collect and preserve and interpret and conserve the pieces she found in the house, and the things she was adding to the house. we have the dichotomy in our collection today, we still refer to the old collection, which is the stuff mrs. kennedy found that had survived the 19th century auctions and giving away of official furnishings, and the new collection, everything she was collecting. in fact, those things to a large extent, were older than the things she already had in the so-called old collection. but she had lots of people coming to the white house because she made the public aware she was making it into a museum. it increased nationwide the interest in historic preservation in old houses and the contents of old houses. so one of her early acquisitions
was this little engraving -- i am not advancing after all of our conversations. there we go. sorry, wrong button. this 1840 engraving was acquired for the white house collection in 1961. the engraver entitled the piece "all creation going to the white house," because even in 1840, they were envisioning the public was attracted to the white house. at that period, it was attractive because people like andrew jackson were living in the building. --1961, acting kennedy gave gave a whole new level of attraction as a historic site and trying to the presidency and a museum of important american objects. following through her tour route, you see in the upper left-hand corner, the east room as she found it in 1961. not too much has changed from what theodore roosevelt had done
to the room in 1902. the chandeliers, the tour shares, the cornices dated from 1902. you see that the mantles are white. they are red marble, but mrs. kennedy thought white was better, so she painted them. they were difficult to keep white. you can see today's east room as it was refurbished in the 1990's. the red metals had been restored to the original color. they matched the baseboards. there were no carpets in the rooms in the 19th century, but one thing first lady barbara bush had asked, the room was so reverberantory, that she asked for some carpets.
they are designed using the plasterwork of the ceiling, and 18th-century english design of having carpets and ceilings reflect each other, something this is kennedy would have appreciated. it makes the room less noisy and also takes away some of the opportunities the children once had, the roosevelt children were known for rollerskating around the room, and subsequent children had attempts at re-creating the mayhem of theodore roosevelt's kids. it is still left largely unfurnished and used for all sorts of parties and entertaining. this is where president and mrs. kennedy held the party for nobel prize winners of the americas and president kennedy delivered the famous quote that i never correctly, "never has so much talent been assembled in the white house except when thomas jefferson
dined here alone." [laughter] there we go. she pointed out the great portrait of george washington by gilbert stuart, our iconic object that was hung on the walls when the house opened in 1800 and saved by dolly madison from the fire. you might have noticed that unfortunately cbs news misspelled her name in the captions. this was the painting that was saved and restored and was in the house continuously except during reconstruction. to the right, there were things acquired not just for the public rooms, there were things that were acquired to be historical and interesting and archival. some may have gone in storage or in smaller rooms on the second or third floors of the house, including this windsor desk chair, which came to us -- it was in the temporary white house after the fire of 1814, the second night that james madison
was fleeing from the white house, dolly madison was in one direction and he took off in another. he was running the government in one night in brookville, maryland. brooklyn, --ght in bill, maryland. he spent the evening sitting in this little desk of the owner of the house. she got into the state dining room. the picture in the upper left is how she would have found it. the black marble mantelpiece was installed in the truman renovation, really just a surround. a big 1902 mantel had the lion heads, changed to bison heads, was moved to the truman library. not to align our cohorts at the truman library, but mrs. kennedy invited them to send the mantle back, it was president truman
who said no thank you, it is , mine and i am keeping it. what she was alluding to that she was having the same carving firm create a new white marble version of the greystone mantle that had been installed in 1902. you see that in the lower right, after she was finished working on the room. she kept the drapes from the truman era and the table and the chairs from 1902. new rug, new mantle. here is the mantelpiece. showing the inscription on the center panel. the bison head in the right corner. they installed the metal in 1902 and lived with it for six years. shortly before leaving office, theodore roosevelt said a lion is not an american animal, fix it, so they had to be carved the lion heads to american bison heads.
she cited the centerpiece in the center of the dining table. it extends to 14 and a half feet long, has 18 classical figures that hold up the candles. one interesting story, most of the time, it is only five sections on the table and two in storage. it is difficult to see, but at the bottom of the plinth, it has the company's name, the makers in france. somehow, this eluded the curatorial staff. they were only looking at five sections and wrote an article for antiques magazine a chipping it -- attributing it to the makers without knowing it was them, not knowing they had a piece of it that was signed by the makers. she took them into the bedroom. when he see the bedroom would have walked in and said, oh my.
this is a very important looking room. the red cloth was put on the walls in imitation of fabric on the walls of the parlor since 1902. you can see, in comparing these pictures, a lot of the same furniture remains in today's room in the lower right as put in by mrs. kennedy, probably one of the most intact of her rooms in terms of acquisitions remaining in constant use. dating fromture 1810-1830. you can see on the left-hand screen, the center table. mrs. kennedy cited it in the tour in parts that we did not see he was an important , cabinetmaker and made spectacular furniture in new york. we were very lucky that mrs. kennedy thought it was worth collecting. the rest of the antiques world, it was not colonial or 18th-century and not antique
yet, and we would not have been able to find a table of this quality today. the sofa behind it, she called it the dolly madison sofa, that was a mistake. it had no association with mrs. madison. the paperwork said it was the style that madison had, and somewhere along the line, back up translated into the paperwork coming out of the curators offices. the little one in the black and white picture belonged to washington's granddaughter. it was quickly replaced in this room by the incredible sofa that remains there today the , lower right, a sofa that has dolphins or sea serpents as the supports for the legs and arms. the blue room, as it looked when mrs. kennedy took the tour. the wall fabric dated from the truman renovation of 1952. she had the monroe furniture arriving in the room, you can
see the table she cited and the original chair that was given back before it was reupholstered. the unfortunate table in the middle of the room was made by the carpentry shop and was a big plywood disc with a fabric covering, i think she was still working on what would be the centerpiece of the room. she was looking for something truly more period, and you can see on the left, the striped wallpaper and decorative elements that she felt to be more in keeping with the monroe period. it was criticized at the time. people said the drapery fabric running around the cornice makes it look like a french lady's boudoir and not a formal room at the white house, but she was more prescient than she believed, because today's room, but you can see here that we have an actual document we found at the smithsonian.
it was installed in 1905 when the room was done again. what you see in the room is different wallpaper, different upholstery, different carpeting, but the feeling of the room that mrs. kennedy created, i think she would be thrilled to know that more historical research was going into how to keep the room looking historic. sorry. she acquired one armchair and two side chairs for the blue room furniture. you see one of the two armchairs in its current fabric. this is a fabric mrs. kennedy chose from a portrait of president munro -- president monroe. it has gone through three different color combinations. the side chair is one of two she acquired. it is difficult to see but the inscription is the french cabinetmaker. unfortunately, you see what happens when people keep
tacking upholstery fabrics to a frame that bears the makers name. today we do minimally invasive upholstery where you build up the structure inside the chair and attach fabrics to the new materials rather than old materials. the table that she cited as being in its original location is now moved to the entrance hall because we acquired in 1979 this sofa from the set and that was the only wall big enough for a nine foot long sofa. there are now seven original pieces back in the white house from the 53 original pieces in the monroe suite. there is her chair, and the left in the nixon era fabric, and on the right is how the chair looks today. this was the most intact of all of the chairs we know of. there are some in other collections as well. for an exhibition we have right now at the smithsonian about the decorative arts of the white house, we were working on restoring the chair to its
original appearance. it would have had red fabric, as mrs. kennedy told us, and it would have had this high sheen, polished, almost metal goldleaf surface. my finger is too fast. she was also very interested in adding to the portrait collection. when she arrived at the white house, the art collection was almost exclusively portraits, but she saw the importance of getting life portraits, portraits done during the 19th century by lesser artists or copies of gilbert stuart to be replaced. she acquired the thomas jefferson in the upper left-hand corner, and succeeding first ladies have added to it. monroe at the upper right. monroe by samuel morse, the inventor of the telegraph who preferred to be known as a portrait painter.
in the reagan administration, we acquired john adams in the lower right by john trumbull. thead been adding to collection, consistent in mrs. kennedy's activity. here is the green room when she started decorating it, is still have the green fabric of the truman renovation. she started adding the federal style furniture from about 1800. two views of that room. here is a black-and-white picture of the wall that shows the daniel webster sofa she cited, in the upper right-hand corner. in front of the sofa is a wonderful baltimore card table, one of my favorite pieces because of the incredible inlays and veneering. both of these pieces had not been used in the house for a while, so we selected them as examples of the perfection of
what mrs. kennedy was doing at the time and they are now in our exhibit right now. when she got finished with the room, she installed this fabric on the walls with her federal periodion and a proper rug. there is the angelica van buren portrait she cited in the tour, which was over the fireplace when she gave the tour. other parts of the tour mentions she was collecting other art, including this portrait of benjamin franklin, which is over the fireplace, as she intended it to be. she moved mrs. van buren just past the chandelier on the left. the green room in the nixon administration, it was decided the federal furniture of mrs. kennedy's time was not the strongest for a room with high ceilings and large scale, and it
was replaced by furniture made by duncan fife. some of mrs. kennedy's acquisitions, a set of these chairs in the upper right. they were perfect to be added to the collection. in contrast, that great fife style in the upper right, and the simple chair in the lower left. this is a curator's delight. if you take the back panel off the upholstery, it was inscribed by the upholsterer. both miniter does not get that much curatorial information. in the green room, this is a third set of changes since mrs. kennedy's time. the fabric has been replaced but considered a key element of the room. the nixon era furniture has
largely been kept but we made a new rug and new upholstery fabrics. mrs. kennedy was interested in improving the art collection beyond portraits. what you see in this picture, the lower left painting was acquired for mrs. laura bush. it is a 1947 painting called the builders. she wanted it to go and public rooms, just as mrs. kennedy thought interesting things should be in public rooms. they put it in the green room. we had to decide, we don't own a lot of abstract art and this might be a little harsh for mrs. kennedy's taste, but the collection is growing and the interest in all periods is growing. what we were able to pair with it this painting in the lower right, a mrs. kennedy acquisition, something she found light and easy and useful upstairs, and it was more
abstract and interesting as a pair for the builders. the wall on the far left of the green room scene, there is a wonderful john singer sargent painting acquired early in the johnson administration as a gift in memory of president kennedy. i think mrs. kennedy would have been pleased that several paintings have been donated by collectors who wanted to remember president kennedy. the lincoln bedroom, on the left, carpet had been installed in the truman administration and the mantle was not period. both of the furniture was. it was still an interesting room. it did not really change very much in the early to thousand's, it was still the 1952 carpet after 50 years of use. the furniture, the lincoln bed, the center table.
this was one where in 2004, , first lady laura bush asked for a refreshing of the room and to go back to the period documents and do it as right as we can. i think mrs. kennedy would have found that gratifying, you heard her cite using historic documents to put things in original places and design things correctly. it is a little more victorian than it was then. you see now the lincoln bed with the proper recreation of its crown or cornice. wallpaper based on the lincoln office, carpeting based on the lincoln office, upholstery based on period things. it is a little stronger than it had been in her time but still one of the principal guest bedrooms in the white house. she moved next door to the treaty room, refered to as the monroe room. here it would have been in the 19th century, when it was the president's cabinet room, you can see the sofa she mentioned in the left-hand picture in the
back underneath the portrait of george washington, the long cabinet table in the middle. there is president cleveland's cabinet meeting around it in the 1890's. there is a colored picture of when she walked in the room and said, this is the chamber of horrors, because there were so many things that were not yet assembled and finalized. a similar picture in the lower right of how the room was after she was done. she picked the border out of the house were president lincoln died, and it was put on the green flecked wallpaper and the victorian drapes, and the big grant cabinet table in the middle of the room. it stayed this way until president george bush's administration. the fabrics were getting threadbare and he said, i like this conference room idea but i would rather have a private office in the private quarters where i can have more intimate meetings. that's the way the room has remained since then, and several
iterations, including -- you can see the finished room, mrs. kennedy's room on the left, and the george w. bush version, still using the table as his desk and the sofa underneath the portrait of president grant. and the painting behind the--of the signing of the peace protocol that ended the spanish-american war. president kennedy alluded in the full version of the tape to the fact that they were not going to the west wing, but i thought i would bring to your attention he mentioned on the tape that he sat at the famous resolute desk. this was placed in the oval office by mrs. kennedy, it had been in private quarters but she thought it should be the most visible desk the president would sit at. it was given to president hayes by queen victoria in 1880 and comes with some interesting photographs for the kennedy library.
the famous one of the young john jr. coming out through the knee hole under the desk as the president is working at it. and a more recent photograph of caroline in the office as president obama tries to figure out how to go under the desk and open the door. [laughter] the look on her face is like, please, mr. president, just stop. [laughter] the only time mrs. kennedy came back to the white house was for a private unveiling of the her portrait and the president's portrait in the nixon building. he was very low-key. she and her children came back. she had made her mark and she felt it was time to leave the white house to her successors. that is what we do today. our office tries to assist along with the national park service and white house historical association, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary, to provide the resources and expertise for each new first family to leave their mark on the house.
now we will have some questions and answers, i hope. thank you. [applause] >> thank you so much for the wonderful tour. that was wonderful to watch. in a recent new york times interview, you talked about the challenge of having this be a museum but also a home for the family. as a curator give us a sense of , how you balance the use of the home and also maintaining it as a museum. >> first, you take a very deep breath. what we are and what misses kennedy we would be is the official home and office of the president of the united states.
so she still wanted to put great things in the room so everyone who came in, diplomatic foreign visitors, would see the best things she could acquire that were made in america and to draw out of storage things she could give new importance to that head -- that had survived the 19th century sales of white house contents. for us, it is the idea that public toys to the least amount of damage because they are on a regimented path through the house and don't get to touch too many things, though there are still tables along the north wall where you will occasionally find a chewing gum attached to the underside of the table. [laughter] there was the day when one lady who had the baby in a front pack leaned over to read the label on a painting called the mosquito
net, to be the label, at which point the baby reached out and grabbed the chinese bowl on the table and threw it on the floor. the woman was mortified. she had not anticipated her baby would be so aggressive with the collection. unfortunately, it was a pair of bowls that were no longer a pair. one bowl is great, but two are better. so you have those kinds of things at parties, sometimes you have people who leave their mentors at home or do not have any. i'm not sure what. the butler told us one night they walked into the blue room and there was a glass of red wine in the middle of the sofa. maybe somebody got up and left it there, but that was an accident waiting to happen. or the night they said there was a man in the red room with his feet on the sofa. the butler was like, what do you say? do you go in and say, excuse me, sir, are you a blank?
i said, is he sick? if he is sick, he needs to to lie down, that is one thing but that is not good behavior. so it is a remarkable attribute to the quality of early american craftsmanship that the pieces hold up. you come to party and you sit on the chairs and you walk on the carpets and eat off of the china. we have glass tops on most of the tables in the public rooms because it is easier to save the spill of an alcoholic beverage if it is rolling off the top of the table instead of eating through the finish. but we have to reupholster things more often in the average museum does. we do the minimally invasive upholstery where we do not tack to the original frame, we tack to additional materials that are added to the chairs and sofas. sometimes, you scratch your head and when something happens, you
go, we could not have anticipated that one. you move on, you work with conservators. we have someone who is assigned to the support facility which cares for furniture and other conservation needs in the house. >> so there is a difference between the public rooms and private rooms. one of the comparisons between the kennedys and obamas is there is now a young family living in the white house. does that change your role to have teenagers and dogs running about? bill: we have been really fortunate. these are great kids and a great dog. [laughter] there has not been one report of damage of any sort as a result
of childhood exuberance or doggy behavior. but there have been times when you wonder, what can you say to a first lady if she picks a piece out of storage because she wants to put it in a children's room and you are thinking, can't you pick something less important or less easily damaged? most of the time, i think the first ladies and presidents do want honest advice. they do not want bad things to happen on their watch. that is why the public rooms are administered partly by our office, but also by the committee of the preservation of the white house, basically to replace mrs. kennedy's fine arts commission with a structured organization. their goal is to preserve the rooms and prevent the family from getting blamed for change. if changes made because we collectively decide on them, and it should not be blamed on the first lady.
it should be the committee's job to take the heat that might come from the press. but the private quarters are still things in the white house collection, so we have to deal with the fact that those things go up and in some cases the fact that we do not dispose of anything from our collection is so that a new first family can come in and maybe they would like to pick a truman renovation or reproduction table to put next to the bed with a water glass on it so if you knock it over in the middle of the night, you don't wake up with a damaged table in the morning. tom: we will begin to take questions from the audience in a minute. please line up at the microphone. they mention at 1.3 million visitors 50 years ago. how many visitors now come through on the public tours? bill: i think the numbers are about 700,000. that does not reflect a loss of president kennedy's optimism.
i do not think we can handle twice that many. but after september 11, 2001, the white house closed. we were not open to tours at all and then it gradually reopened. now the old habit, in the original days you just lined up. if you are in line by noon, you got in on the tour. after that, they decided on giving out time to tickets so you cannot spend your whole morning standing along the fence, it would allow you to do other things. it is required that you have to go to your congressperson and submit information to be cleared through the secret service database so it has cut down not quite 50% on visitation, but still most museums and historic , sites would die for 700,000 visitors a year. so we are still the most visited historic house in the world, i think. tom: we have a question. >> in the original broadcast,
mrs. kennedy showed a shop in which upholstering was done on site. i was wondering, where there other craftsmen or pieces sent out for work in other locations during the kennedys overseeing of the renovation? way toso, is there a find out or research that? grandparents had an upholstery business, furniture renovation. it has always stayed within my family. they did some work, may be just a piece. it has always been something i have been interested to research and find out. bill: it is possible. it was not just exclusively done by larry in the cabinet making shop. they would have used outside
sources, especially when making reproductions. it was done by an outside firm and probably would have been sent to an outside upholsterer. we are welcome to have an inquiry and we can look back in the files. it does not mean that the paperwork back then was as thorough as we might be today. not that they were not trying, but they were overflowing with things happening at the time. people come to us all the time -- not related to your question exactly -- the story that this grandmother said a piece came from the white house. we know there were sales and it was possible and we try to answer them as thoroughly as possible. we cannot say for certain but we cannot deny. >> i don't think my grandparents were very good record keepers. maybe history detectives could help. [laughter] tom: we have a question over here. i am interested if you have
stories of vips trying to take souvenirs home with them and how -- >> i am interested if you have stories of vips trying to take souvenirs home with them and how your staff deals with that. bill: well, you stop putting spoons on the table that say president's house on them. because that is the last course and the poplars will not pick the cups up until the guests have left the table, so you can't monitor that they are putting the fancy spoons in their pockets. that is one way. [laughter] there have been some stories that i cannot absolutely confirm of political figures putting a tray down their pants to try to escape with a piece of silver. [laughter] every year, we are required by law to do an annual inventory of everything in the house. we have 50,000 objects in our collection. probably 30,000 of them are
tableware. we count every knife, fork, spoon glass, dish. ,some may be missing, some might be breakage or gone down the garbage disposal and in the trash. and some might have been purloined. there are collectors of presidential china and there are things that are fine for them to have because prior to recent times, china was broken down and they would have sold it in the 19th century or given it away. i had a collector one time tell me president kennedy tried to give him a cup and saucer they were drinking out of in the oval office and he was like, no, mr. president, that is the white house's. that is a secondhand story. but the president and first ladies are very careful with things today. but we have a lot of guests. >> i have two questions.
one, did mrs. kennedy have a curator such as yourself in house when she was there? and two, she mentioned a painting bought from a museum in the dining room. i know there are a number of other paintings borrowed from various collections in her time. is that something she innovated, and is it being carried on today? bill: yes, she had a curator. lorraine pierce, she was borrowed from the smithsonian. she worked for about a year and there has been four curators before me after her. that makes me sixth in the line. there has been some curatorial presence ever since mrs. kennedy started the museum program that we have to have at least one professional person. she had two other women with lorraine pierce because they
were receiving letters, objects, office of things and donations and they needed to process the , same way we do today to keep the best possible records and to do the research to try to document whether they wanted something or not. the borrowing of paintings happens. she was not the first person, we had loan paintings in the truman administration from a national gallery or someplace in washington. i think maybe the boston museum was her massachusetts contact. she had the two paintings in the state dining room and that is the only time there has been more than one painting in the state dining room. the portrait of lincoln is the principal art object in the room. the walls where she hung the paintings, the sconces had been hung and they have been moved to the walls where they seem to better belong. so now there is no room to hang
another painting. but we continue to borrow as needed. sometimes for the private quarters. we try to have the public rooms focus on our permanent collection, things that focus on the white house. the only exception on the state floor is a portrait of mrs. monroe that belong to the monroe family. it is still on loan since 1970. [laughter] the same thing was true of dolley madison. a portrait of dolley madison was from 1970 until 1996, when we finally talked the museum into selling us a work from the collection. they finally said, it belongs in the white house. much better than it did in their collection. mostly, what people borrow now is to meet -- this administration, the obamas are interested in modern art that we do not have in our collection so
there are paintings we have borrowed from the national gallery in washington for the private quarters and oval office to fulfill their desires. >> i actually have two, if you don't mind. my first question is under which president since kennedy has there been the most change to the white house? bill: the nixon administration was probably the largest number of objects acquired, even more than the kennedy administration. mrs. nixon admired what mrs. kennedy had done and wanted to improve and increase the collection and take very little credit for it. mrs. kennedy did not need to go out and asked people to donate because she set the standard for what every first lady could rely on public understanding. she hired a curator, the man who
hired me. they worked very hard and kept a lot of kennedy things and changed out some kennedy things in other rooms. but the pieces are permanently and will come back into use as different first ladies and presidents choose from them. >> my second collection is on the art collection, it was interesting when you were talking about the builders and how you paired the painting , which is more modern, with a slightly more traditional. as tastes change and we get further away from the modern art period and more contemporary art, how do you mix in pieces from that time period that might not necessarily match with the style in some of the rooms of the house? i do not think we are as locked into style issues as people once were perhaps. there were plenty of paintings going into these rooms that were
60 years later than the style of the room, but because they were traditional paintings, they were accepted as being all right. when mrs. kennedy's portrait arrived, it was exceptionally controversial. very impressionistic, full-length picture of mrs. kennedy. when it arrived, people said it looked like she was wearing her pajamas. she looks like a ghost. it was a hard picture for people to accept because it was an unusual style for a portrait. i think we will have the day when we want to hang jackson pollock in the green room and we will have to decide if that's ok. i think it will be the scale of modern art rather than the style that might be a hindrance for us. do you want to give up an entire wall to one painting when you could otherwise hang four
paintings in the same space? it will come. maybe not on my watch. not because i object to it, but because i do not know that i will be there when the great jackson pollock arrives. [laughter] tom: we do not want to promote any hidden secrets that don't always exist, sometimes when you watch national treasure movies, there are secret compartments. but the next time all of us go to the white house, what is a small thing you would have us look for that a normal visitor might not know of? one intricacy of the house that only a curator would have us take a look and see? bill: wow. that is like the question, what is your favorite object in the house? on 9/11, theell -- favorite object would be something i could carry under my arm when the secret service told us to get out.
which was not going to be george washington, so i thought, it might be that thomas jefferson, except i would be shot for being a boot or on the street if i was seen coming out of the white house. that is a tough one. i will tell a story on the painting i showed you, the mosquito net. it is a great painting. it was in the sergeant's collection until his death. it is a friend asleep under a mosquito net, but it hangs in a room where most of the portraits are presidents or first ladies and it is a depiction of a person and with the mosquito net, most people will come in and say, which first lady is dying in the painting? [laughter] they assume it is a shroud. if you go in the bedroom there , are sconces that flank the sofa on the east wall and the eagle has a chain in its mouth
with a ball on the end. they were made in england. after the revolution, after the war of 1812, the english found out if you make it with eagles, , americans will buy it. [laughter] it does not matter if we are at war, commerce is more important. people wonder, what the ball and chain mean? one of our tour officers, members of the secret service, though you try not to criticize them, when asked that question -- these are 12 or 15 feet apart -- somebody said, what does it mean? i was in the room at the time and witnessed him saying it. he said, you pull the two chains simultaneously and can flush all of the toilets in the white house. [laughter] a room of tourists went, wow. i was in the back of the room going, no!
[laughter] so you can look for those sconces. tom: thank you so much for coming. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> this is american history tv on c-span3, where each weekend, we feature 48 hours of programs exploring our nation's past. >>, american civil war museum interpretation specialist carissa martin talks about civil war guerrilla fighters who later
became outlaws in the west, including jesse james, his brother frank, and their gang. here is a preview. west, it was more the men who made their own law or disregarded the laws that were in place. michael is a historian who wrote inside war, which of the definitive work on guerrilla warfare during the civil war, and he concluded that most google, white as arians must a tree deal during the war. security, communal relations, building blocks of a normal life. they had to lie and cheat and bear false witness to survive. have you pack up from that and move on unless the war is over? it is not easy. there are some people who tried. others lost everything. they ended up moving away. many moved down to texas immediately after the civil war. then there were those did not even try. they decided to take a ball into their own hands and had -- and keep doing what they had been
doing. many of those who went that route fought under one of two men under the war, william quattro was one of the most notorious guerrillas of the civil war, he was known for the massacre at kansas where he and his men slaughtered innocent civilians because it was a union town and the union senator like to go there a lot. he and his men killed union soldiers and unionists without distinction, they did not just think was between civilian or combat, they killed anybody they wanted to. theimself was killed before war ended but his band did not disband. the other one was bloody bill anderson, he was one of the most brutal guerrillas of the war, he started as a lieutenant but he concluded that quantrill was not vicious enough so he broke off and had his own group. he was also killed before the war ended and following the war, many of his men banded together with quantrill's men and they
kept their own groups. >> learn how the civil war shaped frontier outlaws, today at 6:00 p.m. eastern, 3:00 p.m. pacific, on american history tv. >> next on american history tv, the national constitution center hosts a conversation with lori ginsburg, discussing the life and legacy of elizabeth cady stanton, the program begins with an overview of their forthcoming exhibit, the 19th amendment and how women won the vote. [applause] jeffrey: greetings, ladies and gentlemen. welcome to the national constitution center. i'm jeffrey rosen, president of this wonderful institution. le