The Camelot Influence Reflected in History Museum’s Exhibit and Fundraiser

LOS ALTOS, CA (Mar 21, 2023) In a new exhibit and upcoming fundraiser, Los Altos History Museum links the newly incorporated Los Altos of the 60s with the theme of Camelot as it relates to the John F. Kennedy administration and its idyllic image of hopeful optimism and glamour. The exhibit, “One Brief Shining Moment: JFK’s Camelot in Early Los Altos,” is on display in the J. Gilbert Smith House gallery March 23 – June 11, 2023.


In an interview with LIFE magazine shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy first coined the term “Camelot” to refer to the courage and wisdom of JFK and his administration. She also quoted a line from the Alan Jay Lerner musical of the same name, “Don’t let it be forgot, that for one brief, shining moment, there was Camelot.”


“Many people viewed the JFK administration as the ideal government, indicative of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table,” said Exhibition Curator Jordan Grealish. “Hopes for a government where people of many different talents came together to serve the public with honor and high ideals were also reflected in the early days of Los Altos.”


Incorporated in 1952, Los Altos was just a decade old in the 1960s. The exhibit will show how early government officials and civilian volunteers worked to make Los Altos the perfect community, with its small-town spirit and functional society. It also explores what made Camelot a worthy description of the JFK administration.


Visitors can view JFK memorabilia—including a signed letter from the President and a hat from his campaign—and government documents and photos of glamorous social engagements from Los Altos in the 60s.


The exhibit supports the Museum’s fundraiser, “Dancing through the Decades: The Iconic Camelot Decade,” slated for Saturday, April 1 from 6:00 – 9:00pm. The themed event includes music, dancing and decor from the 60s, wine and cocktails, a four-course meal, silent and live auctions, and displays of period artifacts. Proceeds support the Museum’s exhibits, programs, events, and operating expenses, with a special fund-a-need drive targeted for a Learning Center on the Museum’s main floor. Deadline to purchase tickets for the fundraiser is March 26. Buy tickets at or 650-948-9427.


Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibitsstore and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.


The Museum is open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. Tours of the J. Gilbert Smith House are available during open hours. The outdoor agricultural exhibit, gardens and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, visit:, email, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.


Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10,