“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battles or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”
In 1958, President Eisenhower signed legislation to create a National Cultural Center, with the purpose of entertaining and educating. Shortly after President Kennedy’s assassination, Congress designated the Center as a “living memorial” to Kennedy. In addition to the five concert halls, there are lounges, labs, restaurants, and terraces with great views of the Potomac River. Visitors are awed by the Grand Foyer – one of the largest rooms in the world – and the famous bronze bust of Kennedy by American sculptor Robert Berks. The Hall of States has flags from all 50 states, the five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, all arranged in the order they entered the Union. In the Hall of Nations, flags are hung representing every country with which the U.S. has diplomatic relations. The Concert Hall is the largest in the Center, seating 2442 people.
- On opening night, September 8, 1971, a requiem mass honoring President Kennedy is performed, composed and conducted by Leonard Berstein.
- The Grand Foyer is 60 feet high and 630 feet long, making it one of the largest rooms in the world. If you were to lay the Washington Monument on its side in the Grand Foyer, you’d still have 75 feet to spare.
- Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, work crews added 12 new flags to the Hall of Nations.
- The Center’s five performance halls and three restaurants are furnished with gifts from around the world: silk tapestries from Thailand, chandeliers from Austria and Sweden, and original works of art from France.