Presidential artifacts go on display in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon History Museum welcomes "Windows on America: The Challenges of Presidential Leadership," a private collection of presidential history that has never been on public display.

The exhibit opens Saturday, June 15.

Acquired over more than 50 years, the Mark Family Collection focuses on American presidential leadership and major turning points in the history of the United States. The collection consists of over 120 documents, images and objects from more than two centuries of American history.

"The quality and importance of the Mark Family Collection cannot be overstated, and Windows on America will offer the public an incredible opportunity to see some of America's most treasured historical artifacts and documents," said Kerry Tymchuk, Oregon Historical Society executive director. "The Oregon History Museum is honored to host this truly remarkable exhibition."

Guided tours will be available on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at noon and 2 p.m. to give visitors a more in-depth look into this remarkable collection.
The museum will also be open on Independence Day, Thursday, July 4 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

The collector, Melvin "Pete" Mark, was born in Philadelphia, attended high school in New York City, and graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville - three cities with roles in American history.

It was not until he moved to Portland that Mark changed from being a student of history to a collector. The collection began with a letter signed by Theodore Roosevelt, and over the course of the past 50 years has grown to become what historical artifact and document expert Joe Maddalena has called "one of the finest private collections in the country."

Beginning with a letter from George Washington, the exhibit features items from Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

The collection includes the only known copy of the Atlantic Charter signed by both Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

Some of the other notable highlights in this extensive collection include:

  • George Washington's hand drawn landscape plan for Mt. Vernon
  • 1865 Wanted Sign: Abraham Lincoln Assassins
  • Theodore Roosevelt's paper speech, with bullet hole
  • Harry S. Truman's top hat from his 2nd inauguration
  • General Dwight Eisenhower's custom field jacket
  • John F. Kennedy's rocking chair and Oval Office table
  • Jackie Kennedy Carolina Herrera dress