Workshop of Democracy
The White House Historical Association announces The West Wing: Workshop of Democracy, an exhibit of recently uncovered photographs that trace the Roosevelt renovation of the White House and the building of the West Wing. The exhibit is on display at the White House Visitor Center , 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., from June until January, 2007. Open daily 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Free to the public.
Just over one hundred years ago President Theodore Roosevelt transformed the home and office of the president into the White House we recognize today. There were few things in the world big enough to contain the exuberant Theodore Roosevelt, his wife Edith, and six rambunctious children. With family quarters and offices jammed together on its second floor, the White House was not only too small for the Roosevelt family, but also for the burgeoning government of the youthful and powerful new nation.
The bold makeover reflected the rise of the United States as a world power and the emergence of the president as an international figure. Importantly, Roosevelt’s presidency also ended a chaotic mixture of family and business activity in the White House. For many years the chief executive’s ever growing staff worked at the east end of the second floor just down the hall from cramped family quarters. The 1902 Roosevelt restoration created more comfortable family living arrangements and efficient new workspaces for the presidential staff in a new executive office building on the west grounds.
Harper’s Weekly called the understated temporary wing, the White House Workshop. For the next century this structure, successively altered and enlarged, grew with the nation and its importance in world affairs. Today the West Wing has emerged into a notion embedded in the national mind and language that has become shorthand for the workshop of democracy.
The 9-panel exhibit incorporates 65 historic and contemporary images covering topics from the building of the West Wing to working in the West Wing to the West Wing in the popular image. The exhibit was organized by the White House Historical Association, and the White House Curator’s Office in cooperation with the National Park Service.
The White House Historical Association, established in 1961, is a non-profit organization whose goal is to enhance public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the Executive Mansion. Proceeds from the association’s trusts, publications and other items are used to fund acquisitions of historic furnishings and artwork for the permanent White House collection, assist in the preservation of the public rooms, and further its educational mission.