Patricia Nixon and Lady Bird Johnson unveil a newly acquired 1816 portrait of President James Madison, 1970.
Preserving the White House and Supporting the Collection
The White House Historical Association is a charitable nonprofit institution whose purpose is to enhance the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the White House. From private funding and the sale of its educational products, the association supports the acquisition of artwork and objects for the White House collection and contributes to the conservation of the public rooms.
Gifts and Projects Enabled by the White House Historical Association
In 1789, Congress appropriated funds to maintain the White House and provide basic operating needs of the structure and its grounds. Between 1800 and 1961, money for furnishings came from congressional appropriations and private gifts. Congress authorized the president to auction and sell worn or obsolete household goods and use the proceeds to furnish the White House as he saw fit.
A significant change occurred in 1961 when Congress enacted legislation declaring that the furnishings of the White House were the inalienable property of the White House. Congress did not, however, provide adequate appropriated funds to acquire or preserve appropriate works of art or historic furnishings for the public rooms.
That same year Jacqueline Kennedy initiated a three-part program to restore the historic integrity of the public rooms of the White House, to acquire a collection of fine and decorative arts, and to establish the White House Historical Association as a private, independent, nonprofit corporation to interpret “the White House and its history and the persons and events associated with it.”
Private donations to the White House Historical Association and earnings from its operations guarantee full financial support of the annual budget for maintenance and refurbishment of the public rooms of the White House and for acquisition of objects for the collection through the White House Endowment Trust and the White House Acquisition Trust. Additionally, the association accepts and disburses private donations earmarked for special projects to benefit the White House, and funds special historic projects such as the Lincoln Bedroom renovation.