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Philanthropy Cape-Style

John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum

Text by Rachel Walman

The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is nearly 30 years old, housed in the historic Town Hall, which was around when JFK and his family walked Main Street. “The mission of the Museum is to present and share all the Cape Cod stories of the Kennedy family, specifically JFK,” explains Wendy Northcross, Executive Director of the Museum. “We really try to connect people to the power of the place of Cape Cod; why this was an important place to President Kennedy, and what it meant to his family.”

An independently operated establishment, the Museum has been a hub of learning and memoriam since 1992, bringing in students and tourists alike. “We’ve done a lot of activities over the years to be really part of this downtown community, and have become one of the top five most visited places on Cape Cod. So we’re pretty proud of that,” Northcross says. “We always wanted the Museum to be part of the renaissance of Hyannis.”

Central to the tenets of the Museum is the broader aspect of the Kennedy legacy, especially what it can teach younger generations. “I think the opportunity that we have going forward is that whole topic of leadership,” Northcross emphasizes. “What does it take to be a leader? What inspires a leader? What supports a leader? For Kennedy, it was this place; he said it was the one place he could think and be alone, and process through the world’s problems.”

John F. Kennedy’s rocking chair, one of the most famous rocking chairs in the world, is now on exhibit at the museum. It’s on loan from the Waldorf Astoria New York Presidential Suite until 2023.

Ultimately, the Museum is dedicated to educating visitors of all ages on the value of civic engagement. “We have more stories to tell about leadership, and we also think that there’s a great amount of learning to be done on civic education,” Northcross continues. “What does it take to be a citizen in a democracy? And what are the roles and responsibilities of that? I think moving forward, we’re going to find more ways to be relevant to all generations, especially our kids, and next generations of leaders and try to be part of their story too.”

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