Oval Office

The Oval Office with new draperies at Christmas, 2010 (White House - Pete Souza)

The Office of the President

The Oval Office is the president's formal workspace, where he confers with heads of state, diplomats, his staff, and other dignitaries; where he often addresses the American public and the world on television or radio; and where he deals with the issues of the day.

 

View in Google SketchUp

Size of the room:

  • Long axis: 35' 10" (10.9m)
  • Short axis: 29' (8.8m)
  • Height: 18' 6" (5.6m)

President Obama's Oval Office rug—digitally reconstructed (source)

 

History of the Executive Office

(Detailed article)

In 1909, William Howard Taft established an oval office in the the old Executive Office Building while expanding Theodore Roosevelt's original "temporary" structure of 1902. Prior to that, most presidents worked out of what is now the Lincoln Bedroom.

In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt further expanded the West Wing and moved the Oval Office to the southeast corner, in part to make it easier for him to get in and out of it in his wheelchair. Since its completion in 1934, the modern Oval Office has changed very little except in its furnishings.

 

The ceiling medallion (White House - Pete Souza)

Each president has decorated the Oval Office to suit his tastes. Among the features that remain constant are the white marble mantel from the original 1909 Oval Office, the presidential seal in the ceiling, and the two flags behind the president's desk—the US flag and the president's flag. President George W Bush has selected several paintings depicting Texas scenes by Texas artists for his office. Many are on loan from museums in San Antonio and El Paso.

The President's Desk

(Detailed article)

Many presidents have used the famous Resolute desk in the Oval Office or in their private studies. This desk was made from wood taken from the ship HMS Resolute and was given to President Rutherford Hayes by Queen Victoria of England in 1880.

More Images

The Oval Office in new livery, 2010 (BBC - Reuters)

View from the desk, 2010 (Huffington Post - AP)

The new rug, 2010 (BBC - Reuters)

Barack Obama enters the Oval Office for his first full day as president, 2009 (White House - Pete Souza)

Barack Obama speaking with Hillary Clinton in 2009; note the change of paintings (White House - Pete Souza)

President Bush meets with President-elect Obama in 2008 (White House)

The new Oval Office flooring, 2005

Historical photos of the Oval Office