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FDR Memorial in DC | How FDR Inspired Hope
FDR President sitting in wheelchair with hope

The FDR Memorial in Washington, DC spreads across seven and a half acres in West Potomac Park and opened in 1997. It explores 12 years of American history during FDR’s Presidency through four outdoor rooms representing each of FDR’s four terms.

Here, we’re exploring the monuments and other art installations that make up the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. He served his country during the Great Depression and brought hope even during some of the worst struggles in American history.

Art of the FDR Memorial

Breadline Men given food and hope
Breadline by George Segal

Initially developed in 1974, it took more than 20 years for the FDR Memorial to come to fruition. The memorial is a series of gardens complete with water designs, sculptures, and stone architecture.

Artworks by Leonard Baskin, Neil Estern, Robert Graham, Thomas Hardy, and George Segal reside in these gardens. But, although the monuments depicting bread lines during the Great Depression and FDR’s famous fireside chats are truly moving, the water designs throughout the FDR Memorial are perhaps even more iconic.

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Statue of FDR with Fala, His Dog

FDR Memorial featuring Fala beloved doggie by Neal Estern

Perhaps the most iconic monument in the FDR Memorial is a statue of FDR in his wheelchair later in life being kept company by his dog Fala. Found in room three of the memorial, this FDR monument was completed by Neil Estern with the following inscription:

They (who) seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers … call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.

This quote reminds us that the attempted usurpation of power is nothing new. We can look back on FDR’s dismissal of this perceived order with hope for the future.

How Art Creates Hope

Art helps us get a glimpse of the past in a way that transports us to a certain time and place in history. Getting a real feel for how much FDR went through during his Presidency, and how much the American people went through as well, leaves us with a sense of hope.

As Americans, we are resilient. As people, we are connected. The issues we face today are nothing new and we’ve persisted before. Art creates hope because it reminds us of how far we’ve come.

Although there will always be ways to move forward, we hope that by engaging with art that honors the past, we can take more hope into the future.

FDR Memorial I Hate War


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