GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new exhibit now open at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is giving visitors an intimate look at the life of the late president, one photo at a time.
“Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford” documents President Ford’s time in office from the perspective of his personal White House photographer, David Hume Kennerly.
“One of the great things about President Ford was he didn’t act like the most powerful man. He didn’t intimidate people. I mean, he was cool, calm and collected and a steady hand on the wheel. And that worked for me,” said Kennerly.
Kennerly became Ford’s chief presidential photographer at 27 years old, two years after winning the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his photos of the Vietnam War and other conflicts.
“David had been around working for Time (magazine) and covering dad during his vice presidency, so we knew David, we trusted David. That relationship had already happened I mean, so he was (as) ecstatic about being in the White House as the rest of us, I mean, it was a new game, it was something new, I was going to be in my own bedroom with my own bathroom; I was excited about that,” said the late president’s daughter, Susan Ford Bales.
Kennerly’s photos take viewers behind closed doors, illustrating the inner workings of the White House and Ford family.
“I was able to take pictures of them in the act of being themselves, which is a terrific family and a great president. And I’ll just never get over it to this day,” Kennerly said hours before Monday’s exhibit ribbon cutting.
He says the exhibit was curated from thousands of photos he took.
“I think what you will see over there in a carefully selected group of photographs is a really closeup look at President Ford’s humanity and, it’s just a tour through his whole presidency,” explained Kennerly.
The White House photographer will share his experiences with the Ford family during a special presentation at the Ford Museum at 7 p.m. Monday. Ford Bales will also take part in the event, which is free and open to the public.
“Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford” was originally slated to be on display until Sept. 2, but has since been extended through Nov. 3 based on its popularity.