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How the Mona Lisa Conquered America

Daytime Program

Monday, December 14, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0037
$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
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  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.


In December 1962, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa set sail from Paris to New York for the riskiest art exhibition ever mounted. The fragile painting, sealed in a temperature-controlled, bulletproof box, traveled like a head of state accompanied by armed guards and constant surveillance.

The driving force behind the famous painting's high-profile visit was first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who convinced Andre Malraux, France’s cultural minister, and John Walker, director of the National Gallery of Art, to share the masterpiece with the American people. She overcame the fierce objections of art officials who feared the journey would ruin the world's most celebrated smile.

“Lisa Fever” soon swept the nation as nearly two million Americans attended exhibits in Washington, D.C., and New York City—the greatest outpouring of appreciation for a single work of art in American history. And, as only Jacqueline Kennedy could do, she infused America's first museum blockbuster show with a unique sense of pageantry that ignited a national love affair with the arts.

In a program featuring rare archival documents and images, biographer Margaret Leslie Davis recounts an art-world saga filled with international intrigue and the irresistible charm of Camelot and its queen.

The author of eight books, Davis's work has been featured on C-SPAN Book TV, the History Channel's “Modern Marvels,” and documentaries seen on the Discovery Channel and A&E's “Biography.”

Her book Mona Lisa in Camelot: How Jacqueline Kennedy and Da Vinci's Masterpiece Charmed and Captivated a Nation (White House Historical Association) is available for sale.



  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.