Jacques Lowe was the personal photographer to President John Kennedy for three years. Behind the scenes with the country’s most famous First Family, Lowe captured more than 40,000 images of the president, Jackie, Caroline and John that span from the 1958 Senate re-election campaign to the family’s time in the White House. The moments Lowe captured helped inspire the era known as Camelot.
Lowe, who died in May 2001, had stored the bulk of his original Kennedy negatives in a bank vault at the World Trade Center. On September 11, 2001, the collection – save for 10 photos on loan at the time – was destroyed in the terrorist attacks. Archived in another New York City facility was all that remained of Lowe’s iconic images: contact sheets and prints.
Working with the Lowe estate, the Newseum has digitally restored the images and will showcase “Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe,” beginning April 12 as part of the museum’s year-long spotlight on the life of America’s 35th president.
“Lowe’s photographs helped shape Kennedy’s image in the news media and in the public’s imagination,” said Cathy Trost, Newseum vice president of exhibits and programs. “Thanks to his unprecedented access during the presidential campaign, he was able to supply candid and intimate family images to the press, which had never before been used to that extent in politics.”
It took more than 600 hours for the Newseum to digitally restore the contact sheets and prints. With scratches, dust, and other blemishes removed, the photos will now be displayed at a resolution and size at which they have never before been seen.
A touch-screen monitor in the “Creating Camelot” exhibit will allow visitors to view more than two dozen of Lowe’s original contact sheets, including the editing marks that indicate which images Lowe selected for publication in various newspapers and magazines.
The exhibit opens in conjunction with another JFK exhibit, “Three Shots Were Fired,” which examines how the news media reported the events that began with Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. A Newseum-produced film about Kennedy’s presidency and family life in the White House, “A Thousand Days,” also will premiere on April 12.
The exhibits and film will be on display through Jan. 5, 2014.