WEST BRANCH, Iowa – A selection of presidential china from the Set Momjian collection is on display through Oct. 28 at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, including a personal casserole dish from Abraham Lincoln and a punch bowl from Bill Clinton.
Momjian, a retired Ford Motor Co. executive living in Philadelphia, has the largest collection of White House china outside of the White House, including pieces from every presidential collection.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, Momjian will be at the museum to talk about his collection and his personal experiences with presidents and first ladies.
Momjian began collecting china by accident in the 1950s when dealers included pieces of china along with the presidential letters and documents he was collecting. As his collection of porcelain pieces grew he came to appreciate the historical significance and beauty of each piece. Eventually he began to seek out the personal china patterns of first ladies as well, museum curator Marcus Eckhardt said.
Momjian isn’t just a collector of items; he’s a collector of stories. For each plate in his collection, Momjian has an intricate tale about its origin and the public’s reaction, Eckhardt said.
The museum’s display, “Dining with the President,” includes 36 pieces from 12 different presidents, as well as seating charts, menus and related items.
Eckhardt said it appears from his research that all but five administrations (Andrew Johnson, William Taft, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover) purchased some sort of official state china using public funds.
In the early days it was “off the shelf,” generally imported from France. After that, 14 administrations created and purchased their own unique dishes, he said.
In addition to his career with Ford, Momjian served as a representative to the United Nations under the Carter Administration and as presidential advisor to five administrations.
The museum is open
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9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is just one-quarter mile off Interstate 80.
Admission is $6 for adults (16 to 61), $3 for senior citizens (62 and over) and free for children under age 16.
For more information call 319-643-5301 or visit the website,