The Oval Office
The Symbol of the Presidency
You are standing inside the doorway of a full-scale replica of Jimmy Carter’s White House Oval Office, furnished exactly as it was during his administration. As you look around the office, you can imagine the work that goes on during a President’s term of office. Because the White House Oval Office is a working office, public visitors to the White House cannot view it on any tour.
The Oval Office is the symbol of the U.S. Presidency. It is located in the West Wing of the White House and is the center of presidential activity. In the Oval Office, the President hosts world leaders, diplomats, senior staff, and dignitaries as well as often addressing the American public.
President Theodore Roosevelt moved the President’s Office into a new West Wing in 1902. Before that, his office was in the main residence. In 1909, President Taft created an oval office when the West Wing was expanded. By placing the Oval Office in the center of the West Wing, he signaled a more hands-on approach to the presidency. President Franklin Roosevelt moved the Oval Office in 1934 to its current location overlooking the Rose Garden.
Each president decorates the Oval Office to his individual taste selecting furniture, paintings, and decorative objects from White House holdings. Among the features that remain constant are the Presidential Seal in plaster relief on the ceiling, the white marble mantel from the original 1909 Oval Office, and the two flags behind the president’s desk – the U.S. flag and the President’s flag.
The room was painted off-white in December 1974 at which time the salmon, gold, and green upholstery and drapery colors were selected. The oval rug, designed especially for the Oval Office during the Ford administration, was installed in December, 1976. (The rug on display in the museum is slightly smaller than the original so visitors can walk through part of the office.)