December 18 - 2003: JFK statue design approved

David Lewis' revised design for a statue of John F. Kennedy to be placed in front of the JFK Museum in Hyannis
The unveiling and dedication of the JFK statue in front of the JFK Museum in Hyannis. photo.

2003: "The Cape is the one place I can think and be alone." - John F. Kennedy

On this day in 2003, the Barnstable Town Council approved sculptor David Lewis' revised design for a statue of John F. Kennedy to be placed in front of the JFK Museum.

The original design of Kennedy and his son, John F. Kennedy Jr., as grown men set off an uproar that extended well beyond the Cape. Critics argued such a scenario never occurred, since the younger Kennedy was 3-years-old when his father died in 1963.

This was true, although much the same criticism could be said of Michelangelo's Pieta. The Virgin Mary holding her crucified Son in the tableau was not in her 50s, as she was when Christ died, and was sculpted to look three decades younger, according to Irving Stone's "The Story of Michelangelo's Pieta."

Stung by the criticism, the Kennedy family asked Lewis to withdraw the design and work on a revised conception. Lewis agreed and his new design showed JFK alone, walking on a beach in casual attire. The initial location for the statue, Aselton Park overlooking Hyannis Inner Harbor, was also scrapped in favor of placing it in front of the JFK Museum on Main Street in Hyannis.

Lewis' statue was unveiled and dedicated in May 2007, on what would have been JFK's 90th birthday, before a crowd of several hundred people that included Senator Ted Kennedy and his wife Vicki.

In the photo above, Lewis can be seen at right, having just unveiled the statue; next to Lewis is statue committee chairman Lou Cataldo; Senator Kennedy is just to the left of the statue.

More Public Art may follow since Gov. Deval Patrick penned an executive order aimed at sprouting public artworks in cities around the state including Barnstable.

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