In December 1962, Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa set sail from Paris to New York for what many knew would be the riskiest art exhibition ever mounted. The fragile painting, sealed in a temperature-controlled, bulletproof box, traveled like a head of state accompanied by armed guards and constant surveillance.
The driving force behind the famous painting's high profile visit was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who convinced French Cultural Minister Andre Malraux and National Gallery Director John Walker to share the masterpiece with the American people. She overcame the fierce objections of art officials who feared the journey would ruin the world's most celebrated smile, and “Lisa Fever” soon swept the nation as nearly two million Americans attended exhibits in Washington, D.C. and New York City. It was the greatest outpouring of appreciation for a single work of art in American history. And as only Jacqueline Kennedy could do, she infused America's first museum blockbuster show with a unique sense of pageantry that ignited a national love affair with the arts.
Event time is eastern standard time.