The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza received notice of a $40,000 award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support Shared Stories, an in-depth exploration of the use of oral histories in museum programming.
Grant funds will allow the Museum to assemble a group of humanities scholars from a variety of disciplines to plan programs featuring the Museum’s growing Oral History Collection. The collection contains more than 850 recorded interviews with assassination eyewitnesses, law enforcement officers, members of the press and medical personnel from Parkland Hospital, motorcade spectators, White House officials, representatives of the local, national and international news media, as well as Dallas area school children, civil rights leaders, Peace Corps volunteers, astronauts and many others.
People young and old, from all over the world continue to be inspired by Kennedy’s idealism, and they seek solace in stories of his life and tragic death. They look for opportunities to exchange memories of where they were when it happened, how they reacted to the news, and why the event continues to affect their lives in ways great and small.
The Museum’s Oral History Collection is distinctive in size, scope, content and history and provides a wealth of material for historians, researchers and documentary filmmakers, as well as an unrivalled source of raw materials for interactive programming. While other museums collect oral histories on related topics, no other institution has an ongoing oral history collecting project focused on this single event, which took place almost 48 years ago. These conversational recordings preserve valuable information that might otherwise be lost and provide future generations with an evocative link to the past. Because every year the number of people who remember it first-hand grows smaller, collecting and sharing those stories increases in importance.
The Museum has also received an American Heritage Preservation Grant, funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Supported by this grant, the Museum is undertaking a conservation project on the original, 4-piece, three-dimensional enameled metal sign that once hung over the southwest entrance to the former Texas School Book Depository (411 Elm Street). A professional museum conservator is cleaning the sign, and plans are underway to prepare it for future display.
cid:image003.jpg@01CBF84F.3CA25ED0“As one of the few remaining signature architectural elements from the building’s 1960s-era decorative facade, this sign is an important part of the Museum’s collection,” said Nicola Longford, executive director of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. “The sign’s recognizable appearance, size and representation in images and footage are sure to captivate visitors and encourage interest in the building’s history.”
For those who remember the Kennedy assassination, the Museum anticipates the conserved sign will be instantly apparent. For those who were born after the assassination yet have seen historic images of the sign in films and textbooks, the artifact will provide a direct physical connection to the past.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) promotes excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. Typically, NEH grants are awarded to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars.
The Institute for Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.
About the Museum
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history. Located at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, the Museum is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday and 12 to 6 p.m. Monday. Audio guides for the permanent exhibit are available in seven languages, and a youth version is available in English. For more information, visit www.jfk.org or call 214-747-6660.