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Mrs. Nixon and the White House Collection

Copyright © March 9, 2012 White House Historical Association. All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Requests for reprint permissions should be addressed to

When President and Mrs. Richard M. Nixon took residence at the White House in 1969, the wear and tear of thousands of earlier visitors and guests necessitated improvements. From the beginning Mrs. Nixon was keenly aware of the need to support a program for the acquisition of artwork and objects for the collection and played a major role in fulfilling this need.

Acquisitions to the White House Collection during the Nixon administration were substantial bringing more than 600 pieces of art, furniture, chandeliers, notable examples of china services from past administrations, and carpets among other things to the White House. Mrs. Nixon considered the iconic portrait of Dolley Madison painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1804 to be the most important acquisition (loaned from the Pennsylvania Academy of Art in 1970 and acquired by the White House through the gift of Walter H. and Phyllis J. Shorenstein Foundation, 1994).

In 1970, First Lady Patricia Nixon and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House began a program to furnish the Red, Green, and Blue Rooms in high quality American decorative arts from the early 19th century. Major examples by cabinetmakers Duncan Phyfe and Charles-Honore Lannuier were acquired for the Green and Red Rooms.

See the items in a flickr slideshow.