Artifacts from John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s visit to Fort Worth will be on display Saturday at Bass Hall for the world premiere of JFK, an opera documenting the president’s final moments before his assassination.
The Kennedys spent the night at then-Hotel Texas on Nov. 21, 1963. The next morning, John F. Kennedy delivered a speech outside the hotel before he and his wife attended a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast in the hotel ballroom. They then traveled to Dallas, where Kennedy was killed.
More than 50 years later, the Kennedys’ visit to Texas has been turned into an opera, JFK, which will play at Bass Hall on April 23, May 1 and May 7. To help celebrate, items from their visit will be on display in Bass Hall’s east lobby.
The exhibit features original and replicated items, such as a hanger from Hotel Texas, tickets from the Chamber breakfast and a sign held by patrons hoping to catch a glimpse of the president and his wife. Some items come from the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Other items were donated by Fort Worth’s Renfro family, the owners of Renfro Foods.
Arthurine Renfro, who founded Renfro Foods with husband George, was one of the attendees at the Chamber breakfast. She bought new earrings and a broach specifically for the event, which are currently on display at Bass Hall.
“It’s exciting to see the story shared in ways different than just traditional history textbooks,” said Megan Bryant, Sixth Floor Museum director of collections and intellectual property. “Having it shared through a piece of artistic expression, like an opera, it’s exciting to see this kind of thing 53 years after the event.”
Along with the exhibit, the Fort Worth Opera will also have local artist Jay Wilkinson come on opening night and paint a portrait of John F. Kennedy during the show. He will begin painting in the lobby as soon as the doors open and will finish the painting by the end of the show. During the show’s run, the Fort Worth Opera will sell raffle tickets for $25. On closing night, the opera will select a winner to take home the painting.
The painting will be valued at $2,000, said Holland Sanders, director of marketing and communications at the Fort Worth Opera.
More information on JFK can be found on the Fort Worth Opera’s website, fwopera.org/opera/jfk.