As I was originally starting this post on November 23, it was the dawn of a very sad day in American history. It is the day John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX in 1963. We were there in November 2010, and I wanted to share our visit to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in his honor. It was eye-opening and very sad.
I wasn’t born yet when he was assassinated, but my mom and grandma have told me stories of that sad day. Not surprisingly, they also shared stores of where they were and what they were doing when they heard he was killed. Not surprisingly, that day will still probably elicit memories from people here in the US and around the world.
The Sixth Floor Museum is full of such stories and examines the life, times, death, and legacy of President Kennedy. This is done by using historic films, photographs, artifacts, and interpretive displays to document the events of the assassination, the reports by government investigations that followed, and the historical legacy of the national tragedy. Founded by the Dallas County Historical Foundation, the museum opened its doors on Presidents' Day, February 20, 1989.
Located on the sixth floor of the Dallas County Administration Building (formerly the Texas School Book Depository) in downtown Dallas, Texas, it overlooks Dealey Plaza at the intersection of Elm and Houston Streets. It is also the very spot from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed the President on November 22, 1963. At least according to four government investigations.
Being quite interested in Kennedy, it was very exciting to visit and explore the memory and effects of the events surrounding his assassination. The exhibits and the amount of information and documentation they had were mind-blowing and incredible. They have the whole museum laid out in a grid starting with The Early Sixties. As you walk through the museum they tell the story through exhibits such as The Trip to Dallas, The Crisis Hour, the Nation & World Response, and end with The Legacy (at least that was what we saw while visiting).
Along the way we were also able to see the Corner Window and the Snipers Perch, This space is accurately recreated based on crime scene photographs, and is in the southeast corner of the Sixth Floor Museum. It’s hard to stand there and not wonder what was going through Oswald’s mind as he was sitting there waiting for Kennedy’s motorcade to turn the corner. I can’t even imagine.
We spent quite a bit of time walking around and exploring. Make sure you pick up the audio guide before you start the tour. The guide languages available are English, Spanish, German, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese. Of course, they have little placards if you want to read those too.
After we left the museum we made our way over to check out the grassy knoll and the John F Kennedy Memorial Plaza. The memorial is located on Market Street between Main and Commerce and was dedicated in 1970. Designed by Philip Johnson as a cenotaph, or “open tomb,” to symbolize the freedom of President Kennedy’s spirit. It was very touching and special to be able to see this little bit of hope from such a tragedy. They did a very good job. Here is a link to their website with hours and pricing.
Sixth Floor Museum Visitor Information
411 Elm Street, Dallas, TX 75202
Wed- Sun 10 am to 5 pm
Youth (6-18) $14
Child (0-5) Free
The free D-Link bus, with connections to the Arts District and other downtown locations, stops directly outside the Museum at Houston & Elm.
If you do drive, paid parking is conveniently located adjacent to the Museum.
All levels of the Museum are accessible to wheelchair users and others with special needs. An accessible ramp is located at the northwest corner of the Museum. Wheelchairs are available for guests in the Visitors Center on a first-come, first-served basis. Handicap parking is available in the Museum lot, directly adjacent to the Museum, for the standard parking fee. All Museum restrooms have fully accessible stalls. Certified service animals, as defined by the ADA, are welcome.
DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING VISITORS
An American Sign Language (ASL) translation of the exhibit audio guide is available for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing guests. A limited number of the ASL guides are available in the Visitors Center on a first-come, first-served basis. All videos in the permanent exhibit are captioned in English.
Printed transcripts of the audio guide are also available upon request. This is info is from their website.