Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, will be at the Museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts on Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 21, 2011 to launch a new virtual feature called “The President’s Desk.”
“The President’s Desk” is currently available online at jfklibrary.org. Visitors to the site can “sit” behind the desk and click on seven different items on the desk to launch virtual learning experiences based on the life and political career of President John F. Kennedy.
The clickable items on the desk include the famous SOS coconut, a Kennedy campaign button, a secret recording button, scrimshaw, and the president’s telephone. Clicking on any of the seven special items on the desk takes the user to a interactive learning experience complete with photographs, audio, and even more clickable items.
The site also enables the user to view the Oval Office as it looked during John F. Kennedy’s time in office right down to the furniture and the carpets on the floor.
The actual desk itself was given to President Hayes by Queen Victoria of England. It was constructed of timbers from the HMS Resolute, hence the desk’s name “The Resolute Desk.” Three other desks were made from the timbers of the HMS Resolute. One of the three, a smaller lady’s desk that was given to the widow of Henry Grinnell now sits in the a smaller lady’s desk was presented to the widow of Henry Grinnell; this desk is now in the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Movie lovers may remember John F. Kennedy’s desk from the 2007 film “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” which starred Nicolas Cage as Ben Gates, a treasure hunter who seeks to clear his great great-grandfather’s name using clues found in the Resolute Desk (among others).
The Resolute Desk used in “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” was a beautifully crafted replica. You can learn more about it in the video on the left of this page.
The Resolute Desk currently resides in the Oval Office at the White House where it is proudly used by our 44th and current President of the United States, Barack H. Obama. The desk has been modified since it was presented to President Rutherford Hayes in 1880 (some sources say 1878 or 1879).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt commissioned a “modesty panel” to cover the opening in the front of the desk and hide his legs and leg braces. Although FDR passed away before it could be installed, President Harry Truman had the modesty panel added to the desk in 1945.
For more information about the Resolute Desk, please visit The White House Museum.
To experience “The President’s Desk” virtual exhibit, please visit The JFK Library
Photo: WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 17: U.S. President Barack Obama leaves the Oval Office prior to his departure from the White House February 17, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama will meet with a number of business leaders in technology and innovation in San Francisco. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)