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Spotlight: To the Brink—JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis

Spotlight: To the Brink—JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis

Visit the National Archives' exhibit and look back on the Cuban Missile Crisis from the 50-year mark



Getting There

The Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building is on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW in Washington, DC. Use the main entrance on Constitution Avenue and 9th Street for the exhibit. Consider the Metro subway’s Yellow or Green line trains to the Archives/Navy Memorial station instead of driving. No parking is available on-site, and limited metered parking is available on Constitution Avenue or in surrounding public parking garages.

What You’ll Find

“To the Brink” is a look back at the Cuban Missile Crisis from the 50-year mark. The exhibit runs from October 12, 2012 through February 3, 2013 and gives visitors the opportunity to relive or experience the 13 agonizing days in October of 1962 when the world teetered on the edge of thermonuclear war. The exhibit shows President John F. Kennedy (JFK) and his advisers in the throes of deliberation and features never before displayed artifacts, original documents, photographs and film footage.

Make Sure You

Eavesdrop on secretly recorded October 1962 discussions from the White House at exhibit listening stations. The discussions are excerpted from 43 hours of White House tapes. Or try a scavenger hunt through the exhibit—look for the CIA-prepared personality studies of Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, find JFK's reading copy of his address after the failed April 20, 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion or the CIA map of Cuba annotated in JFK’s hand.

Try This

In connection with the exhibit, enjoy a film and learn more about the crisis. On January 8th at noon, the Archives will show One Week in October (1964) and Conversation With the President (1962), a selection of films from the Archive’s holdings on the crisis. These showings will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater.

Don’t Forget

Early that fall of 1962, the Soviet Union began to secretly deploy a nuclear strike force in Cuba, just 90 miles from the United States, with missiles that could reach most major U.S. cities in minutes. The United States insisted upon their removal and the Soviets refused. The standoff nearly caused a nuclear exchange.

Get Started

Check the National Archives DC Events website for further information and be sure to check out this video overview of the exhibit.