The 56th Presidential

Inaugural Luncheon

Barack H. Obama

"Faith in America's Future"

January 20, 2009


Presentations and Toasts

Dianne Feinstein
Bob Bennett
Nancy Pelosi


Reverend Daniel Coughlin

U.S. House of Representatives Chaplain, gives the benediction.


The Smithsonian Chamber Players have provided music for the inaugural luncheon since 1981. Directed by Kenneth Slowik, the group specializes in performing historical masterworks of the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries. The music they perform today is a mixture of American repertoire pieces written for early nineteenth-century presidents, as well as some of the European compositions found in the extensive music library of Thomas Jefferson


View of the Yosemite Valley

by Thomas Hill
Oil on Canvas, 1865

New-York Historical Society, Gift of Charles T. Harbeck

View of the Yosemite Valley, by Thomas Hill, reflects the majestic landscape of the American West and the dawn of a new era. As the country struggled to emerge from the turmoil of the Civil War, many Americans looked West for hope and inspiration. Artists such as Hill, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran painted the vast, open Western landscape with a beauty and grandeur that seemed to eloquently evoke America's future: a land of opportunity, optimism, and freedom.

Thomas Hill (1829-1908) appears to have first visited the Yosemite Valley in August 1865. He explored uncharted areas, making numerous oil sketches that he used to create his monumental vistas on canvas. His paintings struck a chord with Americans, and he became one of the most popular landscape artists of the nineteenth century.

View of the Yosemite Valley, displayed above the head table, was loaned from the New-York Historical Society in New York City.


During the Inaugural Luncheon it is traditional for the President and Vice President to be presented with gifts by the Congress on behalf of the American people. The President and Vice President will each be presented with a framed official photograph taken of their swearing-in ceremony by a Senate photographer, as well as flags flown over the U.S. Capitol during the inaugural ceremonies.

The President and Vice President will also receive one-of-a-kind engraved crystal bowls, created by the Lenox Company of Lawrenceville, NJ. President Obama will receive a bowl depicting the White House on a crystal base inscribed with "Barack H. Obama, January 20, 2009, The Presidential Inaugural." Vice President Biden will receive a bowl depicting the United States Capitol, on a crystal base inscribed with "Joseph R. Biden, Jr., January 20, 2009, The Vice Presidential Inaugural." The bowls were designed by Timothy Carder and hand-cut by master glass-cutter Peter O'Rourke.

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Inauguration Luncheon