tv The Presidency Jacqueline Kennedy the Mona Lisa CSPAN December 2, 2020 8:01pm-8:53pm EST
next on the presidency. margaret leslie davis reveals first lady jacqueline kennedy's political and diplomatic coup in bringing the mona lisa to the united states. despite opposition on both sides of the atlantic. leonardo defend his fame painting was seen as a symbol of the free world at the height of cold war tensions. and president kennedy used its exhibition to promote american relations with france and democracy itself.
2 million people saw the mona lisa in washington d.c. and new york city during the winter of 1963. miss davis is the author of mona lisa in kamala. at how jacqueline kennedy and dauphin she's masterpiece charmed and cultivated a nation. the white house historical association hosted this event and provided the video. now this evening it's a pleasure and honor to introduce a friend to the association, and a friend of mine, margaret leslie davis. she's a award winning author of books about the history of the west. a region that she lives in but also refers to as the pastel empire. the books have been praised by reviewers in los angeles times, washington post, publishers week, he npr, and the new york times. if his most recent book is the lost -- that astounding story of --
described as a engrossing read. a read for any buck lover. her work has been featured on nbc's good morning america, she appeared on c-span book tv. the history channels marvel matters. she's a california lawyer. a graduate of georgetown university. and joining us this evening from the hills of los angeles county. thanks for joining us. it is such a joy to be here for your weeklong celebration, in honor of first lady, jacqueline kennedy. i'm so delighted to share with you a story for my book called mona lisa and kamala. what a kind of forgotten story. it took place in 1963, when jacqueline kennedy masterminded one of the greatest art
exhibitions in american history. let's jump in, shortly? our story opens with a whisper. a whisper between the young first lady jacqueline kennedy, and the charismatic, brilliant, an eccentric minister of culture. and remember all. at a spectacular white house evening on the eve of may 11th, 1960. two it was a whispered promise that would set into motion one of the most unusual and extraordinary art exhibitions of all-time, the triumphant art exhibition of united da vinci's mona lisa, painted scholars think sometime between 15 or three and 15 oh six. the visit of the mona lisa produced the greatest outpouring of appreciation for a single work of art in american history, and pioneered the phenomenon of the blockbuster museum show. it was one of the most daring,
elaborate art exhibitions ever staged. and the paintings unlikely journey to america captured the imagination of the world. following the president and first lady's tour of the french capital. you might remember this, in 1960, won the richest throngs of people in the streets cheering the first couple as they triumphantly made their way through paris. the cultural minister of france took mrs. kennedy on a tour of the great museums of paris. and one year later, when mel roe came to washington to visit the kennedys, jackie kennedy pulled out all of the stops to show andrea mehl row some of the great artistic treasures of america. mr. mehl roses deep interest in art -- must admired by the first lady. she had studied at this or bone in her student days, she spoke
flawless, french and considered french literature and earth her ideal. by 1962, international relations between france and the u.s. become seriously strained with charles de gaulle insisting that the security of france require a development of a atomic arsenal. into this tension filled diplomatic morass glided none other than jacqueline kennedy. the mona lisa would play a pivotal role at this decisive moment in u.s. history. the first lady was the mastermind behind this 1963 exhibition. when the painting, it's called logic home, as it's known in france, the mona lisa, was transformed into nothing less than the icon of the free world, at the height of the cold war. mrs. kennedy had worked for weeks planning the evening. she invited the very best of
america's great artists, writers, and intellectuals. she even enlisted arthur to write a toast for the president to offer during the elaborate state dinner in mattresses honor. she insisted that he be honored by america's best talent. and she managed to cudgel a virtuoso oval mist to entertain the guests. this gathering of the most accomplished men and women in the american cultural see not only underscored the kennedy support for the arts, but also demonstrated how adept jackie was at employing the arts in order to oppose teach to the jfk presidency. i love this photograph. it shows jackie with mel rose showing a mutual delight, and close conversation. seated for the nights entertainment, and jackie is seated very close, with her right shoulder tucked under his arm.
no rose whispers pledge between them. we only learned later what she said. apparently, and this was covered in the persian press and the american press, we only learned later that it was a whispered promise that he would loan the first lady the mona lisa for exhibit to america. i will send you the mona lisa, he said softly that night. the two conspirators considered a u.s. exhibition of the painting a convincing emblem of friendship between france and america. a well chosen gesture of amity, goodwill, and international diplomacy. jackie astutely understood that the relationship of the president to the american people was one of the most closely watched relationships and modern life. and she recognized the
unveiling of france is supreme national treasure. the mona lisa was a unmatched opportunity to burnish the american image at home, and abroad. she was deeply attuned to the power of symbols, and the exception of francis cultural pride was executed to demonstrate the international domestic popularity of the american president. and at the same time, bring a important cultural exchange to the american people. but not everybody shared jackie kennedy and mel roses enthusiasm for sending divinities masterpiece to the u.s.. it was not a popular deal with the french populists. and even more concerning, curators of the louvre and international are 30 sought as a active american hubris. it will prosperous idea, that risk harm to a important masterpiece. the intricacies of the
negotiations to bring the painting here are easter that i hope to have a chance to look at. some of the wild keepers that happened during the mona lisa's travels to america. and all the while, this was at the height of the cuban missile crisis. there was the intractable hostility of de gaulle, and the opposition of major figures in the art world. the story also includes many complexities of the cadet -- kennedy administration that it will lead you to read more about. but the arrival of the middle east was political coup for the administration, illustrating the glory of art, and the culture of the west as compared to the sterile art and life of the soviet regime during the cold war. it is clear from the record that andrew and de gaulle saw the unprecedented exhibition as a shrewd gesture of diplomacy during the touchy conflict over
the gulf desire free independent nuclear force in the face of fierce opposition by president kennedy. well, one of the figures most opposed to the exhibition was eight american. he was a national gallery director, don walker, the patrician, hovered educated connoisseur of art that ran the nation's most important museum. he was vehemently opposed to the idea, and in fact shocked, aghast at the concept of moving a fragile, 450 year old masterpiece. one of the greatest paintings of all-time. not one on can this, but painted on flimsy popular wood that was already starting to buckle. i love this precious, fragile painting across the ocean during the winter. he was hard-pressed for ways to let jackie know that he under no circumstances wanted to be responsible for the mona lisa when she came to america.
it was a clash of wills, and a test of their decades old friendship, and soon the mona lisa became the real issue of contention between them. walker begged her to repeatedly changed her mind. he emphasized the danger inherent in the venture. to john walker, the idea of moving a fraudulent masterpiece thousands of miles across the atlantic ocean tempted fate that should be tested. for him, the whole scheme reeked of american arrogance and he urged jackie to abandon the plan. but to walker's prize, instead of correcting with apprehension, jackie respond with mild amusement. there were hazard she said. but the risks were exaggerated. to prove the point, she reminded walker that mel rose had determined that the painting was in good enough shape to travel, and the trip
had been approved and sanctioned by french officials, including president charles de gaulle. the exhibition of the mona lisa was the perfect expression of jackie's interest in intermingling art with politics. she had somehow constructed the ideal union of culture, and diplomacy. as first lady, she saw the loan of the masterpieces source of pride for both herself and the nation. along that would lift the image of america abroad, and elevate interest in the cultural arts at home. in her mind, the exhibition was the ultimate cultural statement about the power of the u.s. with allies, it further bolstered the presidents cold war efforts to portray america as the enemy of free society that advocated wide support of fine arts. but in the world of john walker, objects of art never had a role in the gritty, grammy worth of
politics. as the painting arrived safely, it would be a defining moment for all americans. but if the painting was damaged, it would cause a irreparable rift with the french people, and destroy one of history's great artifacts. to jackie, the exhibition was a generous gesture of amity by andrea, the leading cultural figure in france, and intellect she admired, supporting international change of the arts, strengthening international alliances. and played a critical cultural role in fighting the cold war. in the, end mrs. kennedy's wish came true. despite workers vehement objections, she got her. way in this photograph, the mona lisa is whisked off the gangplank, following her trip across the atlantic ocean. -- had ordered the middle east to be packed and prepared for her
journey to america. despite rights on the streets of paris, imagine it's so severe that charles de gaulle was forced to launch a mona lisa blackout. -- in this photo, you can see the mona lisa packed inside her specially designed traveling crate, temperature controlled, waterproof and fire resistant. also designed to float should the ship capsized and sank. in fact, mentally says bodyguards were instructed that in the event of a fire aboard the ship, the creek was to be immediately tossed overboard, and curators insisted the french flag be painted on the outside of the container in the event that container work to be lost in international waters. the isis france arrived at the new york harbor pictured here
in the morning of december 19, 1960. two and she is whisked down the gangplank. photographers snap pictures, as steve doors carried the box, and secret service agents handpicked by president kennedy, wearing tiny machine guns under their overcoats to protect their vip charge of a very famous lady. she's carried off of a john ship. the luxurious 80 million dollar super liner, on her arrival to new york city. december 14, 1960, two following its five-day journey across the atlantic ocean, beyond for new york. in many ways, it was mission impossible to get the painting safely to the national gallery of art in washington d.c.. imagine this. the french insisted that the temperature at all times, but inside the special box, and
later at the museum was to remain precisely the same as it was in the loop at 72 degrees fahrenheit. the french made it crystal clear that should the temperature change one iota, the painting would be wrenched backed by french officials, and immediately returned. john walker's task was to keep the temperature constant all the while protecting the painting from robbers, kidnappers, or plain old maniacs. in its 450 year history, the painting had been hidden in wartime, attacked, it had been stolen, and john walker was determined to do everything in his power to make sure that the mona lisa would remain safe under his watch. walker worked frantically with gallery engineers and delicately adjusted the ventilation system so that the atmosphere in mono lee says temporary home with simulate the air she had breathed for
centuries. walker in his mom or, i was so touched when i read it, he was out of his mind with anxiety and worry over the safety of the mona lisa, and the fear of causing heartbreak to both the first lady and president kennedy. he confided in his book that he was so terrified over the foot -- fate of the mona lisa but he even had his doctor prescribed him what he said were mona lisa anxiety pills. he was so concerned and so consumed with fear that untoward harm would come to the famous painting. but for the sake of this great artifact of western civilization, and for the first lady stream, walker was determined to keep the mona lisa safe until his grand debut pictured here on january 8th, 1963. on the evening of the debut, the entire leadership of the associates to be present for the unveiling, which really was
like a queen's coronation, more so than the opening of a art exhibition. jackie kennedy elegantly croft in her pink chiffon gown and pearls, she was simply at her glowing best. she stole the spotlight. diamond drop earrings designed by harry winston sparkled on her face as flashbulbs popped in the hall. press coverage readily found a connection between the mona lisa and jackie kennedy. the mona lisa, first lady of the world among paintings, and jacqueline kennedy, first lady of the nation came face to face, reported the washington post. it was a long-awaited reunion, proclaimed life magazine. and both ladies were at their beautiful best. jackie had returned with her has been from christmas vacation on palm beach in time
to get her hair done for the occasion. she and president kennedy looked rested. whereas mehl rose, seen in the picture here, looked a little pale and exhausted. but nothing could march such an occasion as mona lisa and's debut inside the rotunda of the national gallery in washington d.c.. that night, the candies shared also a beautiful secret. information known only to the president and first lady, and a handful of intimates. the first lady was pregnant. guests that night said she simply looked radiant. americans didn't miss the clinical animal medic significance of the loan of the mona lisa, and once the doors to the national gallery opened, thousands streamed inside to
see the painting for themselves. the kennedy administration we would utilize the exhibition as a tool to, sheep influence, admit the lay public. opinion the exhibition of this cultural prize would be carefully engineered to amplify the domestic and international popularity of americas engaging, articulate, and media savvy president. and the timing coincided with the introduction of television into the political mix. the spectacle of the mona lisa's unveiling would be telecast to a huge american audience, as to make a indelible impression. once the overflow audience was more or less quiet, kennedy read from his prepared address, a finally crafted tribute to the painting, its artist, and the two nations shared aspirations and beliefs, written with great skill by architecture and author -- . the life of the speech in here before us tonight spans the
entire life of the new world. we citizens unborn at the time of its creation are among the inheritors and protectors of the ideal, which give it birth. for this painting is not only one of the towering achievements of the skill and vision of art, but its creed are embodied the central purpose of our civilization. we hear tonight, among the many of the men interested with the destiny of this republic, also pay homage to the great solicitation we share. the beliefs that we protect. and that's operations that we together strive. the unveiling of the middle east coincided with the opening of the 80th congress, and because nearly everyone from both chambers was present, the speech was infused with brilliant political underpinnings. the president astutely lies the
middle east to rise above the shoes of difference, to stress the profound political ties between the u.s. and france, and his speech highlighted the way in which both nations had fought side by side, in not one, two, three, but for wars. and how the respective revolutions had come to define the very notions of modern democracy and liberty. it was an oration that shrewdly transformed the mona lisa into the symbol of the cold war, representing western progress in contrast to the rapper -- repressive regime of the communist bloc. kennedy's closing one would become the single most quoted line by the world press. he said quote, politics and art, the life of action at the life of thought. the world of events, in the world of imagination or one. the crowds cued up outside the
national gallery. pictured here. look at this, enormous amazing amount of people who lined up in cold, freezing january. for many, it was the first time they had visited a art museum and many would return for subsequent visits. they waited four hour upon hour for a chance to see the mona lisa with our very own eyes. the exhibition as jackie kennedy had hoped, triggered a renewed appreciation for culture and the fine arts that had been dormant in the post war years. the gray, the cold eisenhower years were suddenly replaced with the vibrant cultural, and artistic interests brought to national attention by the new, youthful and exuberant kennedy family. mrs. kennedy was very much the prime mover in this new feeling and sensibility. people from all facets of
american life came to the museum, fathers and mothers with their children, and in washington d.c., many residents in the less privileged neighborhoods took their children in small -- long ones to see for themselves one of the treasures of mankind. this is my absolute favorite picture. i love it so much. groups of schoolchildren arrive with their teachers to share an experience that would be remembered forever. the paintings american debut coincided with president kennedy's escalating international and domestic prestige. and it was superbly utilized, on the heels of the human missile crisis to help solidify the presidents image. the succeeding weeks during the mona lisa's visit to america were eight exhilarating time described by arthur, as a golden interlude in which
washington engaged in the collective effort to make itself brighter, and more intellectual. the first lady was at the heart and center of this new sensation. arthur contended that the things that people had once held against jacqueline kennedy, the unconventional beauty, the un-american elegance, her taste for french clothes and french food, were no longer liabilities but assets. he went on to state that quote, she represented all at once not a negation of her country, but a possible fulfillment of. it a suggestion that america was not to be trapped forever in the bourgeois ideal, but instead achieve a dream of civilization and beauty. he tells us that mrs. kennedy dreaded coming to the white house, fearing the end of family and privacy, life for herself and her children was never more intense and complete,
it turned out to be the time of the greatest happiness. here we can see eight marine guard is taking very seriously his job to guard the painting. if you look closely behind the green ferns, you will see a piece of equipment. this was the machine that was monitoring the air quality and temperature the entire time the mona lisa was inside the national gallery. french curators were literally standing by to seize the painting should the temperature drop below 72 degrees. or sale above 72 degrees. it was john walkers charge to keep the temperature constant, and the hatred thumb graph was hidden behind the ferns. the mona lisa generated the first modern block exhibition in the national gallery's history. only one other exhibition, the
famous 1948 exhibition of the famous paintings from berlin had generated similar acclaim, but nothing, nothing could compare to the lisa fever that had swept through the capital, as nearly 1 million visitors poured through the museum doors. as the exhibition gained unprecedented attention, walker directed guards to welcome visitors to other gallery so that they would be forced to view other important works of art before they left the museum following their encounter with the mona lisa. on their way out, walker said let them get some bread to. the famous lady completed her washington tour with no apparent damage. no tears were shed how over the glamorous feminine guest of the national gallery guards who
anticipated the end to the unusually large crowds. the guards had written on the black board in their locker room, mono go home. once again, the mona lisa was packed and ready for her return trip to new york, and her exhibition this time at the metropolitan museum of art. and it remains to be seen whether every pair, and every precaution bite john walker would be enough to keep the lady safe. mrs. kennedy personally asked walker specifically to travel alongside the painting during its trip to new york, and after 27 days at the national gallery with record crowds, so much so that john walker kept the gallery doors open each night until 9 pm, to accommodate the masses of visitors, the mona lisa departed washington d.c. for new york city. the mona lisa was lifted up the
steps of the venerable metropolitan museum, and after she was untreated she was hung in them medieval haul under the direction of james, the museums director. just as in washington d.c., new yorkers came in droves to see the painting at 10 am, on thursday, february 7th, 1963. the exhibition opened amid a citywide newspaper strike, but it still generated a cultural phenomenon. traffic was jammed. and winds of museum goers waited for hours in the bitter cold just to get inside. i research this carefully, and discovered that the very first person in line was a new york taxi driver, from brooklyn, named joseph. quote self admitted lover of the finer things, who arrived at the museum at 4:48 am, to be
the very first to see the mona lisa. by the time the doors opened, align extended the museum steps and all the way along fifth avenue. the city had fallen crazy in love with. mona birds and restaurants got into the act by generating and you cocktail in honor of the famous visitor called simply the mona lisa. the concoction was made up of cognac on the rocks, with a dash of vermouth. shopkeepers sold mona lisa knick-knacks by the box load and the famous name suddenly appeared everywhere. in cartoons and advertisements. suddenly, all things mona lisa were terribly in vogue. i had to share this newspaper clipping. you see the little girl on the shoulders of her dad? she emailed me and said, after she read my book, that seeing the mona lisa was one of the most precious memories she had as a young child with her father. the best part, she said, was
when the line got long and it got cold and they were waiting three, four, five hours to get into the museum, her father said he would take her to tiffany's. a tiffany's, she said she was allowed to purchase anything she wanted as long as it was ten dollars. after the mona lisa was hung in the large medieval sculpture hall, under the direction of museum director, jean walker undoubtedly felt a twinge of envy. the medieval sculpture hall is pictured here. at the metropolitan, the painting hung at the perfect eye sight line. not too high and not too low. it was displayed against a hanging of stunning french
bouquet of red and green. it was beautifully lit from the top, the bottom and both sides. and the bulletproof glass protected the paintings surface. but somehow, in new york at the metropolitan, the glare from the custom spotlight did not reflect as much as it had in the marble hauled national gallery, distorting the visitors view. and unlike the national gallery, the presentation was hailed by critics as flawless. even the typically brutal art critics of connoisseur magazine remarked on the stunning display, noting it beauty, simplicity and importance. more than symbolism was involved. the crowds lined up outside the met were proof enough that the blockbuster show had ushered in a new era in which fine art was no longer the province of the elite. future museums --
museum shows would encompass activities that would enrich the visitors experience, attracted new audiences and encouraged return visits. the record crowds that dissented on washington d.c. and new york to view mona lisa proved that jacqueline kennedy understood these principles, and through her adept staging, she set off a national love affair with the arts. it was the first time and exhibition of art had been an official duty of the white house, and it was the first time that a painting would serve as the icon of the free world. it may seem utterly inconceivable in today's world, but not one credible threat was made against the mona lisa from the moment the masterpiece left the louvre until it was returned 88 days later. nearly 2 million americans came
to see her. jacqueline kennedy was proven right. no harm came to the mona lisa and the exhibit contributed to a widespread cultural awakening for many americans. six years after the exhibition, john walker wrote that he was wrong about the likelihood that the portrait would be damaged. and it was the honor of his lifetime to see. and describe the painting for the benefit of president kennedy and the first lady. the painting was returned to france on march 8th, 1963. only eight short months later, everything came to a grinding halt of deep and intense grieve. in dallas on november 22nd, the assassination of president john f. kennedy. also lost following the assassination was president kennedy and jacqueline
kennedy's deep interest in fostering the possibility of a cabinet level arts director. to their way of thinking, the centuries old tradition of public support for the arts embraced in europe was a missing ingredient in american life. jackie kennedy had used her report with french minister of cultural, andre monroe, to explore what would be realistic and feasible for america. for jackie, mona lisa's trip was her gift to america, awakening a deep enduring interest in the cultural arts, and it was a grant pursuit, which jacqueline kennedy as first lady, so passionately inaugurated. >> margaret, thank you for that presentation. i'm happy to tell you that one of our viewers this evening, i
think we should start with this, was among those who went to the met to see the exhibition of the mona lisa. she was delighted to hear your presentation tonight. one question she had was related to the expense of the exhibition. did you find anything in your research about how mrs. kennedy or the museum galleries were able -- to they have to raise a lot of funds to be able to showcase the mona lisa? >> the funds to safeguard the painting and to launch the exhibition were provided by two donors. i go into detail in the book. one was bonnie mullen who, after the exhibit sent quite a few gifts to mrs. kennedy, i think it was one of those rare moments where art, culture and
politics infused into this remarkable happening. it was such a positive and beautiful experience, just triggering a sort of appreciation for the great cultural treasures around the world. it is the most surprising thing to know that mrs. kennedy was not only the mastermind behind the exhibition, but she also carefully orchestrated its staging, press interviews. she even edited speeches that arthur slush and -- schlesinger wrote for kennedy. and her pencil, and writing and editing, is very clear on the speeches. you kind of watch the progression. she was hands on 100% with this. the entire exhibition was financed privately through donations. one thing i will say is, president kennedy hand picked his favorite secret service agent. it was a man by the name of
john champion, to safeguard the painting. in fact, president kennedy asked him to sleep with a painting. i'm sure his family had an earful when he came home about what it was like to sleep on a cot next to the mona lisa. >> excellent. we have kevin in washington d.c. when you began your research on this particular book, it sounds as if you had started with the idea that you would talk about the tour of the mona lisa. but then as time went on, you began to gravitate towards the story about kennedy was the impetus that brought the painting to the united states. can you talk more about at what point and why you decided to take that focus in that direction? >> i was really astounded how involved she really was. i mean, this was not just casually showing up at the exhibition to be photographed alongside the painting. she coordinated pages and pages of details of the negotiations
with the french for the paintings safe arrival, all the security precautions. really, a my raid of details that added to the pizzazz and excitement of the paintings arrival and its safety. poor john walker though, can you imagine being interested with caring for france is revered cultural treasure? possibly the most famous painting of all-time. how he stumbled on the story was, at the time i was working on a biography of franklin murphy, who was chairman of the national gallery. i was lucky enough to be in the archives. i found some small letters on a blue white house stationary, which i recognized immediately as jackie kennedy's hand writing. as i started to dig into the letters, she was in an argument with john walker over an art exhibition.
but in the series of letters, no one mentioned the name of the painting. so i had to jump on a plane, flight up to the jfk library and within a few days, i figured out it was the mona lisa. i realized what's an incredible story it really was and that these letters have been forgotten. i really think a large reason the exhibition had been largely forgotten is because of the assassination. the other most remarkable thing i learned was how intent the candies were in creating a cabinet level position for the arts in america, much like we have in europe, in france with andre mehl rose, the minister of french culture this was a sincere plan on their part. in fact, plans were made later in the year to announce a arts cabinet position. >> excellent.
i want to ask you, in terms of the actual presentation, there's a number of questions here about whether or not the mona lisa ever left france for a another exhibition like this to another country? what do you know about that? >> no, it's so amazing. you would think after this amazing trip to america, the french would never let the painting leave again. when in fact, they did. the painting traveled to tokyo. it traveled to tokyo for a two-week exhibition. it was met with great reverence by the japanese people. some of the pictures of the exhibition are so dramatic and beautiful. of course, the day the plane arrived, it was raining and whole parade of cars and vans and art curators came with black umbrellas. mona lisa was whisked in her special traveling crate. another shocking detail is, as
the mona lisa was traveling to tokyo, there was a satellite launched into orbit. it was unknown to the pilot that he would encounter this whisking satellite in his eye view. i'm sure it was quite a frightening moment for him. i tell it at the very end of the book. you know what i love the most? it was of course the militia -- mona lisa traveled by herself in an entire jetliner strapped to the floor. >>. ,,? >>. good question. i think it was probably too risky to try to flight for one more exhibition on the west coast. of course, our east coast
friends think the national gallery and the metropolitan museum may exceed our provincial los angeles museum in 1963. in fact, we did not even have the los angeles museum of art in los angeles until later. >> we have another question from the west coast. diane from san diego asks, who influenced jackie kennedy's interest in the arts do you think? >> you know what? i think it was her mother. her mother took her on frequent field trips to museums. in fact, that is how john locker got to know jackie kennedy, is when her mother brought her to the museum. of course, they were personally led through the museum by the gallery director. this isn't just a ordinary field trip to the museum. and i think that her mother influenced her greatly. i can honestly say from reading some of her private
correspondence regarding the exhibition, that she thought about her mother quite a bit and what a triumph she would a thought it had been to bring the mona lisa so america could see her. thanks a lot. we have a question from santa fe. she would like to know what role did president kennedy play with regards to first lady jacqueline kennedy's initiative? >> i'm sorry what role did -- >> jackie kennedy play? >> oh it's really remarkable, and all of the paperwork connected with the exhibition, there are a few things where president kennedy's own hand is check marks, or he says this or that. but it really was jackie kennedy who masterminded it. this is a standing amount of evidence. primary records that document her day today activities regarding the exhibition. there's no question though that
senator kennedy supported this bold idea and considered it part of his effort, to ease tensions between france and the united states. i know many of us know from history, the french conquer over the nuclear arsenal something that kennedy was vehemently opposed to. i think he appreciated kennedy's pull back to -- at appreciated her 100%. >> we had a number of questions about this. do you think there was a difference in terms of people being able to see the painting? was it available to all the people? was segregation involved in terms of visiting the painting when it was at the national gallery? do you know anything about that? >> john walker was insistent that it was just first in line for stan. so as people arrived they were
cute. and there was no vip access. although you can imagine his phone was ringing day and night for people who want the personal tour of the mona lisa. this was really a exhibition for the people and anyone who showed up and we did in line, sadly the lines were quite belong and i'm sure some of the school children after a six-hour wait were exhausted. but i don't think anyone who actually had a chance to see the mona lisa during the 80-day period it was in america will ever forget it. >> last question of the evening margaret is going to be on the transportation mode of mona lisa. a number of folks have asked, why did she travel by ship versus traveling by air? >> isn't that amazing. you know there was air force line, air travel was commonplace by 1962, 1963. it was a safer, better option for the painting to fly, but
the french insisted. grant manifestations. they wanted the most opulent arrival for the mona lisa that they could imagine, and they wanted it to come on as this france, the great 80 million dollar luxury super liner. and there are these tremendous pictures in the book of the moment the ship pulls into new york harbor, and all the boats surround it, and express of water. basically fireworks of celebration when the painting arrived. it does astound me that the french would consider that ac for mode travel for such a fragile masterpiece. imagine, painted unpopular would, 450 years old by this time. but no, the french insisted that it trouble by ocean liner. >> margaret, thank you for
joining us tonight. i just want to say special thanks to you because your work aligns very much with the white house is historical association. not because you published your book but also because you're very focused on keeping culture in the psyche of the american public. helping people understand why different things in our culture are important. if folks want to look at some of the other books that are investigating this, you will find a number of them are on historical figures, but also a more recent one on the guttenberg bible is also like that. we appreciate that and being a partner with us at the white house historical association. >> thank you. it was a joint to join. you thursday morning, a hearing on congressional oversight of the fbi's crossfire hurricane investigation into possible ties between the 2016 trump campaign and russian officials. watch live from the senate
homeland security committee starting at 10 am eastern on c-span three. online at c-span.org. or listen live on the free c-span radio app. weeknights this month we feature american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span three. thursday night, to bestselling authors on how they use historical research in their work. watch beginning at 8 pm eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span 3.
film about the american flag. up next on real america from the national archives. fresh colors. using his own narration and archival footage, the filmmaker laments the soviet question of a 1968 student uprising in his home country. he went on to received many awards including academy and people. abby and has created animation for several pbs programs including sesame street. i was trained as a artist. after completing my schooling, i worked for several years as a artist and animator for czechoslovakia films. and then the russians invaded my country. now i'm a political refugee in the united states. my first job in this country was as a animator.
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