Skip to content
37 items
Activating this element will cause content on the page to be updated.

Fine Arts and the White House

The White House is the president’s office and the home of the first family, but it is also a museum. The Executive Mansion, as it’s also called, contains a large fine arts collection that includes various American paintings and sculptures. The collection of fine art at the White House has evolved and grown over time. The collection began with mostly presidential portraits, purchased, or commissioned—meaning specially created—by Congress, or donated by presidential descendants. Some presidents even invited painters to set up studios in the White House to record significant events and paint their likeness. In the late 1800s, a few landscape paintings were acquired—or bought—for the White House, but it was not until the John F. Kennedy administration in the 1960s, that the first curator was hired. Curators care for museum objects and develop guidelines for that care as well as guidelines for adding objects to a collection. Explore the history behind the Executive Mansion’s fine art collection to gain an understanding of how the White House became a museum of American history and culture.