Welcome to the White House Museum. This Web site is a private, unofficial, online effort to provide a place to explore the history and heritage of the home of the president of the United States of America. It's not about politics or policy. You will not find information here about assassinations, adultery, or corruption. This site merely celebrates the architecture, history, and cultural significance of the White House in America and abroad.
And please consider making a donation to help maintain the site. Just click on one of the Donate buttons, like the one at the top of this page, and donate safely via Paypal. Or you can sponsor one of the original 1950 blueprints I've acquired.
Please note that WhiteHouseMuseum.org does not own the copyrights to almost any images found on this site. Most are images that were taken by federal employees and were always in the public domain or were taken by private photographer but have fallen into the public domain due to age. However the best contemporary images are typically owned by the White House Historical Association (non-governmental, non-profit organization). These and other images still covered by copyright appear here only under fair use guidelines of US copyright law: they serve to educate without profit and are available at low resolution to avoid impacting their commercial potential.
However, the contemporary floor plans and most of the 3D models were all created by Peter Sharkey and are available for licensing in as 3D models or as 2D images in high definition and in any custom view. Contact Peter Sharkey by e-mail and visit Wingnut's Workings.
PLEASE do not e-mail me asking if a specific image is available for licensing. Wherever possible, I link to the original location on the Web where I found the image or otherwise credit the source. Be logical: if you want to license an image taken during the Kennedy administration and credited to the Kennedy Library, go to the Kennedy Library website and look at their photo licensing information. You can e-mail them a link to the photo on my site to help them figure out which photo you want to license.
An Online Museum
I've long had an interest in the White House and other homes of heads of state. In 2004, I began to research the White House and also 10 Downing Street (the home of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, which has a fascinating heritage of its own). I searched extensively online for information and found that there was no Web site that encapsulated the history and architecture of the White House thoroughly and in one place. Even the White House's own Web site tour is basically limited to the same handful of rooms you would see if you actually went on a White House VIP tour.
I was fascinated by pictures of the Zweifel family's White House in Miniature traveling exhibit but still found it difficult to figure out which room was which and where each was located. But as I did my casual research, I saved the images that I found and gradually came to the conclusion that I had enough to do a good job of documenting the whole White House and that the great majority of material was in the public domain.
I decided to create an online museum-like tour of the White House residence, offices, and grounds to help educate people on the amazing 200-year-old mansion, museum, state event host, office building, television and radio studio, and intelligence operations center known so simply as "The White House."
Sources and Links
Most of the images for this Web site come from the Library of Congress. The LOC site is not especially user-friendly, but you can find the invaluable primary materials in the HABS collection. The Historical American Buildings Survey extensively documented the Residence in the early 1990s while it was being stripped of its forty layers of paint, and repaired and repainted. Similarly for the West Wing, the Washington Post's 2005 article "Inside the Real West Wing" was an invaluable resource for the floor plan and content (and "Inside Obama's West Wing" continues to be).
Still, in some cases, I have had to make guesses at exactly how an area is laid out. If you have information that contradicts this Web site's best guesses at the location or history of the various areas, please let me know. If you have photographs that better illustrate certain locations, I'd love to see them. Many of the sources for this site use small, low-quality images that require substantial processing to improve. If your photos are better than what you see here, please consider sending them to me to make them available to everyone who visits this site.
The text largely comes from the White House's own site, Wikipedia's White House rooms pages (which is freely licensed and which I contributed much of the text to anyway), and the White House Historical Association site and its frequently-updated The White House, An Historical Guide. Bits and pieces are gleaned elsewhere and, hopefully, woven into the fabric seamlessly. In a few cases, I quote directly from copyrighted sources with attribution. Over time, I expect to rewrite most of these passages to be clearer and more concise.
For a full list of excellent resources, see the Research Resources page.
In cases where documentation is scarce, I have used photos posted online by tourists to the White House. I have tried to identify these (and all the photos) with proper credit, but if I have used one of your photos and you prefer that it not appear on this site, let me know and I will take it down.
If you have visited the White House and have photos that illustrate an era especially well, I'd love to see them and add them to the site. Even if your photos are dark or faded, I can process them to look their best. And I'll happily credit you however you like and link to your Web site or blog.
The best photos have few or no people in them, are large and in focus, and feature a room on the ground floor or East Wing. Poor photos are blurry or have your friend Jan smiling in front of a Christmas tree in the East Room. I'm sure Jan is a great person who can make tuna casserole like nobody's business, but she's not really a part of the history and heritage of the house. She'll understand.
The Settling of Bets
The Board of Directors of the White House Museum does not recommend WhiteHouseMuseum.org be used for the purpose of settling bets.
White House Security
There are many secure aspects to the White House, and this site is not interested in any of them. All the material presented here is readily available elsewhere online or in published books, usually with the explicit approval of the White House itself. Some parts of the White House that are not documented here will be documented eventually, when more information becomes available, such as the social offices in the East Wing.
Other areas, such as the maintenance and mechanical rooms in the White House sub-basement, the Presidential Emergency Operations Center under the East Wing, and the security operations areas on the roof, will not be a part of this Web site because they are either boring or sensitive or, quite likely, both.
Similarly, this Web site has no interest in the security procedures that surround the first family and the White House and will not include pictures or descriptions of security personnel, checkpoints, or methods.
Nor will this site reveal the location of the White House's secret "self-destruct" button. In fact, the less said about that, the better.
The Dream of a Real Museum
My hope is to one day build a real museum of White House history in the form of a full-scale replica of the White House. There is no large-scale replica of the White House in the US (there is one in China) and no museum of White House history other than a few small museums mostly focused on the presidency. There are, of course, several presidential libraries and museums (one per president since Hoover, plus a few small museums for others), some of which include replicas of the Oval Office and other rooms in the White House, but nothing like a real replica of the whole mansion.
I have created a proposal that I am trying to interest legislators and other officials in. I've sent the proposal to the various congressional representatives and senators for my area, and I'm considering pursuing a grant from the Department of Education.
If you have an interest in supporting such a museum, please contact me.