On Saturday, April 25, museum visitors will be able to experience a brand new special exhibit at the Roosevelt Library. The exhibit, titled The Spirit of the Gift: Gifts of State and Affection, features nearly 100 impressive and unusual presidential gifts given to FDR.
The exhibit’s title is taken from President Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address, in which he called the Presidency a gift bestowed on him by the public so that he could serve as the “instrument of their wishes.” “In the spirit of the gift,” he proclaimed, “I take it.”
This was the first of thousands of gifts FDR accepted during his 12 years as America’s Chief Executive. Each reflected, in some measure, public faith that he was fulfilling his inaugural pledge.
These tributes came from government leaders and celebrities—but chiefly from everyday people. They ranged from opulent state gifts to handmade offerings. When he planned the museum in his presidential library, FDR included space to display many of these gifts. He felt they represented the nation’s love and respect, not just for him, but for the Presidency itself. The Spirit of the Gift showcases a selection of these gifts of affection, along with impressive state gifts from around the world.
The Spirit of the Gift was made possible through the generous support of the Roosevelt Institute. It will be on display in the museum’s William J. vanden Heuvel Special Exhibits Gallery through December 31, 2015.