tv Jacqueline Kennedy Televised White House Tour CSPAN May 26, 2020 12:37pm-1:31pm EDT
john f. kennedy marked the 50th anniversary of her guided tour and later awarded an honorary emmy. and then william almond talks about her work and the evolution of the white house collection. this video is courtesy of the kennedy library. the audience watched miss kennedy a full tour but only a brief clip is shown in the first clip of this program. >> good evening and welcome, everyone. i'm tom putnam, director of the john f. kennedy presidential library and museum and behalf of tom mcnaught, members of the board of directors and my colleagues, i think you for joining us this evening. let me first acknowledge the underwriters of the kennedy library. lead sponsor bank of america, boston capital, the will institute, raytheon and the boston foundation our and wbur and the "boston globe." we considered have this forum
last night on the 50th anniversary of the tour but did not want to make of you have to choose between sharing valentine's day with loved ones or with your friends here at the kennedy library. so we're so pleased to have so many of you with us this evening. 50 years ago jacqueline kennedy introduced herself to the nation. in a way they knew her through the role as the president's wife and mother of two children and charmed world leaders. but on february 14th, 1962, it was a more substantive jacqueline kennedy who guided viewers on a televised tour of the white house and the nation was transfixed. 46 million americans watched that night and an additional 10 million tuned in days later. the reviews described her as virtuoso performer with subtlety
and standard. my note relates to the day she spent taping the tour. after dinner she and president kennedy watched some outtakes with friends. seeing how his wife had clearly outshined him in her portion compared to the clip there which he appeared the president asked cbs if it is possible to reshoot his segment the following morning. essentially he followed the same script the next day but tried admirably to match his wife's charm, ease and engaging presence. you could decide how well he does when we watch that clip in a moment. tonight we'll watch a portion of the tour and then it will our great honor to hear from the current white house curator william allman. it is often said that nice guys finish last especially in our nation's capital but bill allman is a wonderful exception to the rule. he became curator of the white house on august 1st, 2002 serving as assistant since 1976.
no one has done more in recent years to preserve the white house and the historic collections and helping to update them to our times. we're delighted he's here with us this evening. after the film mr. allman will give a brief slideshow presentation about the white house and then i'll moderate a conversation with him during which time we welcome your questions. three quick notes. we'll be ending early to ensure mr. allman catches his plane back to d.c. you could own your own copy of mrs. kennedyay's tour buying it outright in the museum store open after the forum and for a limited time if you make a purchase in the store or our e-store we're giving away free copies to mark the 50th anniversary. and this coming wb cbs sunday morning will air a story on mrs. kennedy and the white house tour and i hope you all will tune into that. mrs. kennedy was one of the founders of this library. it was a great hope to be a vital center of education and
exchange which would grow and change with the times. i believe our forums, programs and exhibits continue to be guided by her spirit and i hope live up to the standard she set in her virtuoso performance 50 years ago. let's relive that moment now together. >> a tour of the white house with mrs. john f. kennedy. created and produced by cbs news for the cbs television network. ♪ ♪
>> this is the white house as seen from the south lawn. for the next hour mrs. john f. kennedy invites you to visit. >> good evening, everybody. do i need to use this? okay. what i'd like to do for a few minutes is bring a little color to black and white tv show. some color pictures of how these rooms looked when mrs. kennedy was doing it and then some pictures of how the rooms have changed since that time. because i think mrs. kennedys would been the very first person to say to everyone that what she was doing was a first step when she was asking people to donate things, well, maybe the very best things weren't being
offered at the time but when she had nothing you took a lot of things that were offered. so there have been improvements into the collection and growth in the collection and that is what she expected every first lady and family to do, to contribute to the house remaining a museum and growing and becoming more interesting to the public. you see here the white house. and a picture of mrs. kennedy during her televised taping, a color still picture taken showing her the blue room. one of the things the president talked about was how many people had come to visit. they had 1.3 million people in the year 1961. so it wasn't so much that the tour kicked off the interest in the white house, mrs. kennedy had already attracted the public attention. she was -- she got early in 1961 congress to pass the law that she mentioned which didn't just protect the collection but established that the museum
character of the public rooms of white house must be maintained in per -- perpetuity and the secret service has a lot of say about the security issues but the museum character was what she was so interested in grasping. then she created the curators office also in 1961 with the idea that you needed a professional staff there to collect and preserve and interpret and conserve the pieces that she found in the house and the things that she was adding to the house. we actually have the dichotomy in our collection today. we still refer to the old collection, which was the stuff that mrs. kennedy found that had survived the 19th century auctions and the giving away of official furnishings and then the new collection was everything she was collecting. but, in fact, those things, to a large extent, were older than the things that she already had in the so-called old collection.
but she had lots of people coming to the white house because she made the public aware that she was making it into a museum. it increased nationwide the interest in historic preservation and old houses and the contents of old houses and so one of her early acquisitions was this little engraving. i'm not advancing after all of our conversations. there we go. sorry. wrong button. this 1840 engraving was acquired for the white house collection in 1961. and the engraver entitled the piece all creation going to the white house. because even as early as 1840 they were envisioning that the public was attracted to the white house. in that period it was attracted because people like andrew jackson were living in the building. by 1961 mrs. kennedy gave the house a whole will you level of attraction as a historic site and a shrine to the presidency
and a great museum of important american objects. so following through her tour route, basically you would see the upper left hand corner the east room as she found it in 1961. not too much has changed from what theodore roosevelt had done to the room in 1902 with the architects. the chandeliers, the torches, the corn over the drapes dated from the 1902 period. will you see in the picture that the mantels are white and marble but mrs. kennedy thought white was better and painted them. and that was fine for a long time. they were difficult to keep white. the paint chipped and such. and so you see in the lower right-hand corner today's east room. as it was refurbished in the 1990s. the red mantels have been restored to their original color because they match the heathers
and the baseboards. there were no carpets in the room in the 19th century but one of the things that first lady barbara bush was asked that it was so reverb rent and so these were delivered early in the clinton administration but designed using the plaster work of the ceiling, the 18th century english design feature of having carpets and ceilings reflect each other. something that mrs. kennedy would have appreciated greatly. so it makes the room less noisy. but it also takes away some of the opportunities that the children once had, the theater res svelte children were noted for roller skating around the room and subsequent children have had attempts at recreating the mayhem of the theodore roosevelt kids. but the room is still used, is still left largely unfurnished and used for all sorts of parties and entertaining. this is where mrs. kennedy held the famous dinner for the nobel prize winners of the americas
and president kennedy delivered the famous remark that i never quote quite correctly but said never has so much talent been assembled in the white house except when thomas jefferson dined here alone. there we go. she pointed out the great portrait of george washington by gilbert stewart. that is our iconic object that was hung on the walls when the house opened in 1,800 and saved by dolly madison from the fire. you might know that cbs news misspelled dolly's name in the
that james madison was fleeing from the white house after dolly madison had grabbed the painting and taken off in one direction and he took off in another direction and he was running the government for one night in brookeville, maryland, sitting in this little desk made by the owner of the house. she moved down the hall out of our normal tour route and got into the state dining room first. the picture at the upper left is how she would have found it. the black marble mantel piece is what was instilled in the truman registration. the lion's head carved on it changed to bison heads was, in
fact, removed by the truman renovation and sent to the troouman library. mrs. kennedy actually invited them to send the mantel back and it wasn't the no thank you. it's mine. i'm keeping it. what she was alluding to was that she was having the same firm, the same carving firm, create a new white marble version of the gray stone mantle that was installed in 1902. you see that in the picture of the lower right which is after she was finished working on the room. she kept the drapes from the truman era and the table, and the chairs. new rug. new mantle. there's the mantle piece closer showing the inscription as it's carved in the panels and the bison head at the lower right corner where theodore roosevelt,
he lived with it for six years. theodore roosevelt said it's not an american animal. fix it. they had to recarve the lion heads as american bison heads. she cited the great monroe center piece, it extends to 14.5 feet long. it has 18 classical figures that hold up the candles. most of the time it's five sections long and there's two sections in storage. at the bottom where the lady is in the black and white picture, it has the company's naime, the makers in france. mrs. kennedy's staff were only looking at the five sections and they wrote an article in a
magazine attributing it to someone else, not realizing they had a piece in the basement signed by the makers. she took them into the red room. this is the red room as it would have looked when he went in and say, oh, my. the red cloth was put on the walls in imitations of fabrics that had been on the walls under theodore roosevelt. in comparing these two pictures, a lot of the same furniture remains in today's room as was put in by mrs. kennedy. probably the most intact of her public rooms. most of the american empire style furniture dating from 1810 to 1830. you can see on the left hand sign the center table that's labeled by the manufacturer. mrs. kennedy cited in the tour
that he was an important cabinet maker. we were very lucky mrs. kennedy saw empire as something worth collecting. she cited the sofa behind it calling it the dolly madison sofa. that was a mistake at the time. it had no association with mrs. madison. the paperwork said it was a style of the sofas mrs. madison had. the little one in the black and white picture belonged to washington's grandfather. it was replaced by mrs. kennedy by the incredible sofa that remains today which is a sofa that has dolphins or sea
serpents carved for the legs and arms. the blue room as it looked when mrs. kennedy took the tour in there. the heavy wall fabric dated back to 1952. she had the monroe furniture arriving in the room. the table on the right-hand side is the table she cited. rather unfortunate table in the middle of the room was made by the carpentry shop and was a plywood disc with a fabric covering. she really didn't want this cloth to continue. she was looking for something truly more period. you see on the left the stripped wall paper and decorative elements that she felt to be more in keeping with the monroe period. it was criticized at the time.
people said it made it look like the french lady's bedroom. today's room on the right-hand side is a wall paper swag that's an absolute period document that we found at the cooper collection in new york and it was installed in 1995 when the room was done again. what you see in the room is different wall paper, different carpeting, but the feeling of the room that mrs. kennedy created, she would be thrilled to know that more historical research was going into how to keep the room looking historic. you see one of these two blue chairs in its current fabric. this has the eagle on it.
it's gone through three different color combinations. the side chair is one of two she acquired. it's marked, by bottom inscription was the french cabinet maker. what we do today is minimally invasive upholstery where you attach your fabrics to the new material rather than the old materials. the table she cited in its original location is now in the entrance hall because in 1979 we acquired the sofa from the set. that was the only wall long enough to take a 9-foot sofa. there's her chair on the left in the nixon era fabric.
on the right is the way the chair looks today. this chair was the most intact of all the chairs she acquired. for an excision at the smithsonian about the decorative arts of the white house we were working on restoring the chair to its original appearance. it would have had red fabric and it would have had this really high sheen polished, almost metal like finish to its gold leaf surface. sorry. my finger is too fast. she was very interested in adding to the portrait collection. when she arrived at the white house, the art collection was mm exclusively portraits. she saw the importance of life portraits. she acquired the wonderful thomas jefferson in the upper
left hand corner and then the succeeding first ladies have added to it. monroe was acquires during the johnson administration. madison was painted when he was the president. in the reagan administration we acquired john adams by john trumble. we've been adding portraits consistent with mrs. kennedy's interest in that activity. there's the green room when she had started decorating, it had the heavy green fabric of the truman administration. she started to add this federal style furniture from about the period of 1800. two views of that room. here's a black and white picture of the wall that shows the daniel webster sofa she cited.
that's in the upper right-hand side corner. the bottom is the card table that is one of my favorite pieces. both of these pieces haven't been used in the house for a while. we selected them as examples of what mrs. kennedy was doing at the time. they're in our gallery right now. when she finished with the room she installed this silk fabric on the walls with her federal collection and a proper period style rug. there's the angelica van buren portrait she cited in the tour. there's also this great portrait of benjamin franklin which is over the fireplace. she moved mrs. van buren just
past the chandelier on the left. the green room in the nixon administration. it was decided the federal furniture of mrs. kennedy's time was not the strongest pieces for rooms with very high ceilings and large scale. so it was replaced with furniture made by the new york workshop of duncan and fife. these wonderful chairs you see in the upper right, she acquired a set of four of those. they were perfect to be added to the collection. also, in contrast that very great fife style in the upper right and the simple chair at the lower left, this is a curator's delight. it was inscribed by the upholsterer. most furniture doesn't get that
much information. then the green room as you see it today, this is the third set of changes since mrs. kennedy's time. still her fabric has survived. it's been replaced, but considered a key element of the room. the nixon era furniture has been kept. we made a new rug and new fabrics. mrs. kennedy was interested in improving the art collection beyond the portraits and what you see in this picture, the lower left painting, was acquired for mrs. laura bush. it's a 1947 painting called "the builders." she wanted it in the public rooms just as mrs. kennedy thought things should be added to the public rooms. it was decided to put it in the green room. we had to decide -- we don't own a lot of abstract art. mrs. kennedy was looking for things that were early american.
the interest is growing. what we actually were able to pair with it is the painting of the lower right. it was a mrs. kennedy acquisition. she had it upstairs, but it was more abstract and interesting as a pair for "the builders." on the far left of the green room scene is a wonderful painting called "the mosquito net." this was a gift in memory of mrs. kennedy. i think she would have been pleased so many great paintings were donated in honor of mrs. kennedy's contribution to the white house. the lincoln bedroom, carpet was installed in the truman renovation. the period wasn't period. the mantle wasn't period. it was still an interesting room.
the lower right evolved. didn't change much in the early 2000s. it was still the 1952 carpet on the floor after 50 years of use. the furniture, the lincoln bed, the wonderful center table. this is one where in 2004 first lady laura bush said could we refresh this room and go back to the period documents and do it as right as we can. i think mrs. kennedy would have found that enormously gratifying. you heard her cite using historic documents to put things in their original places and design things correctly. it's a little more victorian than it was then. you see now the lincoln bed with a proper recreation of its crown, wall paper based on the lincoln office, carpeting based on the lincoln office, upholstery based on period things. it's a little stronger than in her time.
it's still one of the principle guest bedrooms in the white house. she moved next door to the treaty room. they referred to it as the monroe room. here it was in the 19th century when it was the president's cabinet room. you see the so far in the left hand picture in the back, the long cabinet table down the middle. there's president's cleveland's c cabinet meeting around it. there's a colored picture of how when she walked into the room and said this is the chamber of horrors because there were so many things not yet assembled. then the lower right how the room was finished when she was done. she picked the border that came out of the house where president lincoln died. victorian drapes. the big grant cabinet table down the middle of the room. it stays this way until
president george bush's administration. he said, you know, i like this conference room idea. i would really rather have a private office in the private quarters. that's the way the room has remained since then. you can see the finished room -- mrs. kennedy's room at the upper left and the george w. bush version of the office, still using the treaty table as his desk and the grant so far underneath the portrait of president grant. the great painting behind the desk of the signing of the peace protocol that ending the spanish/american war. president kennedy eluded in the full version of the tape the fact they were not going to the west wing. i thought i would bring to your attention he mentioned in the tape he sat at the famous resolute desk.
it was placed in the oval office by mrs. kennedy. she thought it should be the most visible desk the president would sit at. it was given to president hays by queen victoria in 1880. it comes with two interesting photographs. the famous one of young john jr. coming out through the knee hole under the desk as the president is working at it. a more recent photograph of caroline in the office as president obama tries to figure out how to go under the desk and open the door. the look on her face is like, please, mr. president, just stop. the only time mrs. kennedy came back to the white house was for a private unveiling of her portrait. she and the children came back. it was very low key and that was -- she made her mark. she felt it was time to leave the white house to her
successors and that's what we do today, is try to -- our office tries to assist along with the national park service and the white house historical association to provide the resources and expertise necessary for each new first family to leave their mark on the house. now we'll have some questions and answers, i hope. thank you. [ applause ] >> first, thank you so much for that wonderful tour. it was wonderful to watch and observe. in a recent "new york times" enter rue y interview you talked about the challenge of having this be a museum, but also a home for a family. give us a sense of how you
balance the use of the home and maintaining it as a museum. >> first you take a very deep breath. what we are and what mrs. kennedy knew we would be is principally the official home and office for the president of the united states. so she still wanted to put great things in the room so every guest who came whether tourists or invited guests, diplomatic foreign visitors would see the best things she could acquire that were made in america and to draw out of storage things she could give new importance to that survived all the unfortunate 19th century sale of white house contents. for us it's the idea that the public tours do the least amount of damage because they're sent on a regimented path on the house. there are still tables you'll
see chewing gum attached to the under side of the table. there was a day one lady had a baby in the front pack and leaned over to read the label on the john singer sergeant painting at which point the baby reached out and grabbed a chinese bowl on the table and threw it on the floor. the woman was mortified and had never anticipated the baby was going to be so aggressive with the collection. unfortunately it was a pair of bowls that were no longer a pair. one bowl is great and two were better. at parties sometimes you have people who leave their manners at home or they don't have any. i'm not sure exactly what. the butlers told us one night they walked into the blue room and there was a glass of red wine standing in the middle of the so far.
maybe somebody got up and absent mindedly left it there. it was an accident ready to happen. or there was a man in the red room with the feet on his so far. the butler said how do you say excuse me sir you're a blank? anyway, i said is he sick? if he's sick and needs to lay down, we understand. otherwise it's not good behav r behavior. it's a remarkable tribute to the quality of early craftsmanship that pieces hold up. you come to a party and you sit on the stairs. you walk on the carpets and eat off the china. we have glass tops on most tab e tables in the public room because it's easy to save a spill off a glass table. you have to reupholster things more often than the average
museum does. we do minimally invasive upholstery where you don't tack to the original frame, you tack to additional materials added. sometimes you kind of scratch your head. when something happens, you say we couldn't have anticipated that. you move on and work with conservat conservators. just as mrs. kennedy was happy to have her upholstery shop where they can do work on site and not have to send things out, we have somebody assigned to us that helps care for the furniture and other conservation needs for the house. >> clearly there's a difference between the public rooms and private rooms. one of the comparisons between the kennedys and the obamas there's now a young family in the white house. does that change your role
having teenagers and a dog running around the residents? >> we've been really fortunate. these are great kids and a great dog. there hasn't been one report of damage of any sort as a result of childhood exuberance or bad doggy behavior. you know, there have been times when you sort of wonder what can you say to a first lady if she picks a piece out of storage because she wants to put it in the children's rooms and you're saying can't you pick something less important or less easily damaged? most of the time the first ladies and the presidents want honest advice. they don't want bad things to happen on their watch. that's why the public rooms are administered by our office and also by the committee by the preservation of the white house which was created by president
johnson to replace mrs. kennedy's fine arts commission with a more structured organization. their goal is to preserve the rooms and prevent the family for getting blamed for change. if change is made, it shouldn't be blamed on the first lady. it should be the committee's responsibility to take whatever heat might come from the press. the private quarters are still things that are in the white house collection. we still have to deal with the fact that those things go up there. the fact that we don't dispose of anything from our collection now is so that a new first family can come in and maybe they would like to pick a truman renovation reproduction table rather than the duncan fife table to put next to the bed with a glass of water on it. >> we'll begin to take questions from the audience in a minute. if you have them, lineup at the
microphones. 1.3 visitors 50 years ago. how many visitors do you have now that come through on the public tours? >> i think the numbers are about 700,000. that doesn't reflect a loss of president kennedy's optimism for twice that many. i don't think we could handle twice that many. i really don't. after september 11, 2001, the white house closed. we were not open to tours at all. then it was gradually re-opened. now the old habit of -- in the original days you liened up at the fence line. after that they gave out timed tickets so you could not spend your whole morning standing along the fence and you could do other things. it's required that you have to go to your congress person and submit information to be cleared through the secret service database. so it's cut down not quite 50% on the visitation, but most
museums and historic cites would die for 700,000 visitors a year. we're still the most visited historic house in the world i think. >> we have a question here. >> in the original broadcast mrs. kennedy showed a shop in which upholstering was done actually on site. i was wondering were there other craftsmen where pieces were sent out to be done in other locations during mrs. kennedy's overseeing of the renovation? >> yeah. >> if so, is there a way to find out anyway to actually research that? my grandparents had an upholstery business and renovation and it's always been said within my family they did
some work, maybe just a piece. i don't know. it's always been something i've been interested to research and find out if there's a record. >> it's possible. it wasn't exclusively done in the cabinet making shop. they would have used outside sources especially when they were making the reproduction chairs in the blue room. it was sent to an outside firm. you know, we're welcome to have an inquiry and we'll look back in the files. doesn't mean the paperwork is quite as thorough as we might be today. not that they weren't trying, they were just overflowing with things happening. people come to us all the time -- not related to your question exactly. the grandmother said this piece came from the white house. we know there were sales and we know this is possible. we try to answer them as
thoroughly as we can that we can't say for certain, but we can't deny. >> my grandparents were very good record keepers. >> we have a question over here. >> i'm interested if you have any stories of vips trying to take souvenirs home with them and how your staff deals with that. >> well, you stop putting demi spoons on the table that say president's house on it because that's the last course and the butlers won't pick the cups up until the guests have left the table. you can't monitor if they're putting the spoons in their pockets. that's one way. i mean, there have been stories i can't absolutely confirm of political figures putting a tray down their pants to try to
escape with a piece of silver. you know, every year -- we're required by law to do an annual inventory of everything in the house. we have 50,000 objects in our collection. 30,000 is tableware. some are piecimissing and some e breakage, some may have been gone in the trash. there are collectors of presidential china who have things that are fine for them to have because prior to recent times people -- if a china service got broken down, they would have sold it in the 19th century or given away. i had a collector tell me president kennedy tried give him the cup and saucer they were
drinking out of in the oval office. i can't confirm that story. it's a second-hand story. i think the president and first ladies are careful with things today. we have a lot of guests. >> question here. >> i have two questions that are related. one, did mrs. kennedy have a curator such as yourself in-house when she was there? two, she mentions a painting that was borrowed from the boston museum in the dining room and i know there are a number of other paintings borrows from various collections in her time, is that something that she innovated and is it being carried on today? >> yes, she had a curator. it was lorraine pierce. she was borrowed from the smithsonian. she worked for about a year and then there was four curators
before me after her. i'm sixth in the line. there's been some presence ever since mrs. kennedy started the museum program and said we have to have at least one professional person. she had two other women working with lorraine pierce because they were receiving letters and objects and offers of things and donations and they needed to process the way we do today to keep the pest possible records and do the research whether they wanted something or not. the borrowing of paintings happens. she was the first person -- no, she wasn't the first person. we had loaned paintings in the eisenhower and truman administrations too from the national gallery. maybe the boston museum was her massachusetts contacts. she hung those two paintings in the state dining room. that's the only time there's been more than one painting in
the state dining room. the portrait of lincoln is the principle art object in the room. the walls where she hung those paintings, the sconces were hung and they've been moved to the walls where they seem to better belong. now there's no room in the room to hang another painting. we continue to borrow as needed. sometimes it's to meet the tastes of the first family. it's usually for the private quarters. the public room is for things that belong to the nation. the only exception is a portrait of mrs. monroe that belongs to the monroe family. it's still on loan since 1970. the same thing was true of dolly madison. our portrait of her was on loan from the pennsylvania academy of the fine arts from 1970 until 1996 when we finally talked a
museum to selling us a work because they said, wait, it belongs in the white house, much better than in their collection. mostly what we borough now -- president obama is interested in abstract art. modern art we don't have in our collection. we borrowed paintings from the national gallery for the private borders and the oval office that fulfill their desires. >> last question. >> actually i have two if you don't mind. my first question is under which president since john f. kennedy has there been the most change to the white house? >> actually the nixon administration was probably the largest number of objects acquired, even more than the kennedy administration. mrs. nixon very much admired what mrs. kennedy had done an wanted to improve the collection, increase the
collection and take very little credit for it. mrs. kennedy set the path. she didn't need to go out and ask people to donate as much because mrs. kennedy set the standard for what every first lady could rely on the public understanding. she hired a curator, the man who actually hired me. they worked very hard. they kept a lot of kennedy things, they changed out some kennedy thingins. all the pieces are permanent and they'll come back into use from time to time. >> my second question is on the art collection. it was interesting when you were talking about the builders and how you paired that painting which is more modern with slightly more traditional. as tastes change and we get further and further away from the modern art period and more contemporary art, how do you mix in pieces from that time period
which might not necessarily match with the style of some of the rooms in the house? >> i don't think we're as locked into style issues as people once were perhaps. there were plenty of paintings going in these rooms that were 50, 60 years later than the style of the room, but because they were traditional paintings they were sort of accepted as being all right. you know, when the -- when mrs. kennedy's portrait arrived it was controversial. it was a very impressionistic paenti painting. when it first arrived, people said it looks like she's wearing her pa skbjamaspajamas. it was hard for people to accept. i think we'll have a day we want
to hang jackson pollack in the green room. really, it's going to be the scale of modern art more than the style of modern art that may be the hindrance to us. do you want to give up an entire wall for one painting? it will come. maybe not on my watch, but not because i object to it. just because i don't know that i'm going to be there when the great jackson pollack arrives. >> bill, we don't want to promote any hidden secrets that don't truly exist. sometimes when you watch "national treasure" movies, there are secret compartments. the next time we go to the white house what's one small thing you might have us look for that a normal visitor wouldn't know?
something only a curator would want us to see. >> well, that's hard. on september 11, 2001 would have been something i wanted to carry under my arm when we were told to be out. that's a tough one. i'll tell a story on the painting i showed you "the mosquito net." it's a great paeinting. it's a friend a sleep under a mosquito net. it hangs in a room where most of the portraits are presidents are first ladies. it's a depiction of a person with this black mosquito net
hanging over their heads. most people say which first lady is dying in that paninting. they assume it's a shroud. in the red room there's two sconces that flank the so far. they have eagles that hold a lane chain in its mouth. the english realized if you make it with eagles, the americans will buy it. people ask all the time what does it mean, what does this ball and chain mean? is it casting off the chains of british tyranny? is it linking itself to the world community? one of our tour officers when asked that question -- these are about 12, 13 feet apart. someone said what does it mean? this fella -- i was in the room
at the time. he said you pull the two chains simultaneously and you can flush all the toilets in the white house. a roomful of tourists went wow. i'm in the back of the room going no! look for the sconces. >> thank you all so much for coming. thank you, bill allman. [ applause ] sfo >> announcer: watch american history tv tonight and over the weekend on c-span3. >> lift off.
take off for crew dragon. >> announcer: this week watch live coverage of spacex's commercial test flight. wednesday our live coverage of the spacex crew dragon launch begins at 12:00 p.m. with lift off at 4:30 p.m. then a post launch briefing at 6:00 p.m. eastern. thursday at 11:15 a.m. live coverage and then the opening of the hatch and the event between the spacex crew dragon and the iss crew. watch live on c-span 2 online at
c-span.org. >> announcer: this his new book "talking to strangers" the author tells why he thinks people make inaccurate judgments about people they don't know. >> step out of the car. >> i don't have to step out of the car. >> she's imprisoned for resisting arrest and then three days later she hangs herself in her cell. a tragic and urinexpected resul. that exchange we saw that goes on and on and on. we saw a small snippet of it. that was the kind of -- when i first saw that online that's when i realized what i wanted to write about. if you break that exchange down moment by moment, you see multiple failures of understanding, of