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The White House Historical Association released a new episode of The White House 1600 Sessions podcast today, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Art in Cultural Diplomacy.” In the episode, Stewart McLaurin, president of the Association commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Mona Lisa’s incredible journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.

“The Mona Lisa coming to America is a true feat of cultural diplomacy,” said McLaurin. “First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy’s partnership with the French government laid the foundation for international relations. Her accomplishment left a lasting impression on our country and cultural diplomacy in the world today.”

In 1961, Mrs. Kennedy visited France and worked with French cultural affairs minister, André Malraux, to bring Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, Mona Lisa, to the American people. Two years later, Mona Lisa arrived in the U.S. to fanfare and excitement, making appearances at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This episode was filmed as a part of the Concordia Summit in New York City. McLaurin sits down with a distinguished panel to dissect the role of art in cultural diplomacy, including: His Excellency, Philippe Étienne, the Ambassador of France to the United States, Bénédicte de Montlaur, the President and CEO of the World Monuments Fund, and Kaywin Feldman, the director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

“I don't think [today] you would get queues around the block for many works of art, except for a handful that are in the sort of league of fame of the Mona Lisa…this extraordinary collaboration that happened in 1963 was actually the beginning of the idea of blockbusters and people lining up for hours for culture,” said Feldman.

Watch the full video of this podcast episode here.

The story of Mona Lisa’s visit to America is also detailed in Mona Lisa in Camelot by Margaret Leslie Davis. The print edition is available from, and audio and ebook editions will be released later in 2023.

To hear the full episode, visit

The 1600 Sessions is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

For more information, please contact

The White House 1600 Sessions

White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin. McLaurin is the host of “The White House 1600 Sessions,” the Association’s official audio and video podcast devoted to exploring the history, cultural impact, untold stories, and personal accounts of America’s most iconic residence and highest office.

P.D.F. Resources

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit