Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Kennedy Center Opens

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, opened 40 years ago today, with the premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass.

According to the Kennedy Center web site, "Two months after President Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, Congress designated the National Cultural Center (designed by Edward Durell Stone) as a "living memorial" to Kennedy, and authorized $23 million to help build what was now known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

"Fundraising continued at a swift pace -- with much help coming from the Friends of the Kennedy Center volunteers, who fanned out across the nation to attract private support -- and nations around the world began donating funds, building materials, and artworks to assist in the project's completion. In December 1965, President Lyndon Johnson turned the first shovelful of earth at the Center's construction site, using the same gold-plated spade that had been used in the groundbreaking ceremonies for both the Lincoln Memorial in 1914 and the Jefferson Memorial in 1938."

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