Where U.S. Presidents are in ‘Time’

For the 2008 presidential election year, the National Watch and Clock Museum, Columbia, Pa., has created an exhibition called, “Time in Office: An Exhibit of Presidential Timepieces.”

Those on display belonged to 20 presidents, including a pocket watch of George Washington; a clock that ticked while Abraham Lincoln contemplated his moves in the Civil War; clocks owned by James Polk, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Gerald Ford; a Freemasonry triangular pocket watch of Warren G. Harding, and unusual wristwatches of Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson (with “Do to others as you would have them do you” on the dial), and Richard Nixon (with his wife and children on the dial).


        LBJ                             Truman                   Washington                 Eisenhower                Buchanan

The exhibit presents the presidents’ attitudes about their use of time and about significant events occurring while in office, using the timepieces and other items that belonged to them, plus images, stories and objects from their White House years.

“We wanted these very important and unique timepieces placed in proper context with the periods in which their owners served as President,” says NWCM Director Noel Poirier.

A number of presidential libraries, museums, and historic sites loaned items to the exhibit. It’s the first time many of these timepieces and memorabilia have been presented together in one exhibit, some never shown previously outside their home museums.

Political ephemera of each president are provided by the American Political Items Collectors. The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors’ School of Horology, also in Colombia, contributed to the exhibit, spending many hours conserving several delicate timepieces, including those of Washington, Truman, Rutherford B. Hayes and James Buchanan.

“Time in Office” runs through Dec. 31. It also has programs and lectures for school-age children and for the general public, which combine the science of timekeeping, presidential history, and horological history. For more on admission, hours, and the museum, go to http://www.nawcc.org and click on “museum,” or call (717) 684-8261.

The museum is operated by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, a nonprofit association with about 23,000 members in 55 countries.




Actors portray President Abraham Lincoln and Mamie Eisenhower, 
wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, at the opening of 
“Time in Office: An Exhibit of Presidential Timepieces,” 
presented by the National Watch and Clock Museum, Columbia, Pa.