Taking the Family to Boston’s JFK Presidential Library
Boston is a city full of interesting historical places for traveling families to see. However, a fascinating place every family in Boston needs to experience is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. This library is the perfect place for families to know more about the life of this noteworthy president. Traveling families can also enjoy the nearby Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
What You Will See
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum honors the life and legacy of the President through exhibits about his public and personal life, as well as events that occurred during his presidency.
The museum is focused on both John F. Kennedy’s public and private life. Permanent exhibits include coverage of his campaign, how he effectively used the television to get his message to Americans, the “Space Race” to the moon, furnishings from the Oval Office and exhibits about his wife, Jackie, and their family. The museum also features special exhibits about a variety of Kennedy-related topics (Presidential getaway to Cape Cod, the Cuban Missile Crisis, his Inauguration, and more).
Our son loved the slabs from the Berlin Wall that he had also seen in the Reagan Library. He commented on how both a Republican and Democrat president had a slab in their respective libraries. He was also fascinated with how the Kennedy family, JFK in particular, led the advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. One of JFK’s sisters was mentally disabled, so the topic was close to his heart. Furthermore, our son liked seeing JFK’s office with a replica of the ship he was on while he was in the Navy. We also saw all the gifts sent to him and his family while they were in the White House, including a small Japanese doll for his daughter.
One of the best things to see in this museum is the artifacts and memorabilia from the JFK election period. Visitors can see an extensive collection of newspapers, TV clips, costumes, dresses, hats, and pins. All these items get guests to relieve the tense environment of the election.
Edward M. Kennedy Institute
Located near the JFK Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is a tribute to the influential senator’s 47-year career. It also educates the public about the Senate and encourages visitors to participate in the democracy of the United States.
At the entrance to the Institute, visitors first see impressive granite pillars carved with the names of the fifty US states and the year each was accepted into the Union.
The Institute boasts interactive exhibits to help both children and adults gain a better understanding of this governmental body. Visitors can get a real experience of being in the United States Senate in the full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber. They can also learn all about what the Senate is, who works there, how a bill becomes law and how we can all make a difference. In fact, kids can create their own bill and try to convince fellow congress people the importance of what they’re presenting in the Senate Chamber. The Institute also features an issue of the day, rotating between Immigration, Health Care, and Civil Rights.
Visitors can also learn about Edward M. Kennedy’s legislative battles, where he stood on a variety of issues and can hear some of his speeches. Also not to be missed is his office, which includes a bust of his brothers RFK and JFK. Here, visitors can see his paintings, since Edward Kennedy had a talent for landscapes.
Location, Hours, Cost
The JFK Library is located at Columbia Point, 220 Morrissey Boulevard. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute is next door at Columbia Point 210. Both are roughly a 20-30 minute drive out of Boston. The JFK Library is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, and the Institute is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Admission to the JFK Library is $14 for adults and $10 for children 13-17. Children under 12 get in for free, and there are various discounts for seniors, college students, and veterans/active military.
Admission to the Institute is $16 for adults 25-61, $14 for adults 18-24, and $8 for children 6-17. One can get discounts for seniors, veterans, and MA residents, and children under 6 get in for free. Visitors can enjoy a $2 discount if they show a same-day ticket for the JFK Library.
Autism Travel Tips:
- The JFK museum features a free educational iPad app for children called the JFK Challenges. This app focuses on astronauts and the moon landing, as well as the Peace Corps created during JFK’s presidency.
- There are some great resources on the website to help prepare children or adults who might not know what to expect at the museum. These sites include photos and recordings of speeches from John F. Kennedy, a family tree that starts all the way back with Joseph P. Kennedy (born in 1888) and the many legacies that JFK has left behind (the Peace Corps, Green Berets, different funds and charities).
- Families should attend a family friendly docent-led tour to learn more about the highlights of the museum.
- Both institutions are ideal for older, school-aged children. However, younger ones might have a tough time staying interested.
- The website recommends 1.5-2 hours to visit the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
- Visitors can enjoy a café, gift shop, and coat check at the Institute.
- The Institute is wheelchair friendly.
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