In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation creating a National Cultural Center, which was to be privately funded and self-sustaining. Fundraising began immediately. During his tenure, President Kennedy, a strong supporter of the arts, was prominent in fundraising, and two months after his assassination in November 1963, Congress designated the National Cultural Center as a “living memorial” to the late president and renamed it the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Ground was broken in 1965, and the Kennedy Center opened to the public in 1971.
Leading off the Grand Foyer, pictured above, are the Concert Hall (the home of the National Symphony Orchestra), the Opera House, and the Eisenhower Theater. Halfway down the foyer on the right, opposite the entrance to the Concert Hall, is an 8-foot bronze bust of President Kennedy, the work of American sculptor Robert Berks.