November 22, 2012 marks the 49th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, and community preparations are underway for observing the 50th anniversary next year. While Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and a committee of civic leaders will oversee the city’s official memorial in remembrance of the day, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will place special emphasis on public and educational programming over the course of the year, including collaborations with various Dallas-based organizations. Updates to the Museum’s facility and its main exhibit will also be incorporated into the Museum’s anniversary plans. Two new initiatives have already been unveiled: a completely updated touchscreen audio tour to accompany the Museum’s exhibit, and an online resource tool for researchers.
“The Sixth Floor Museum is about far more than telling the story of one tragic day or weekend in history,” said Nicola Longford, executive director of The Sixth Floor. “Our mission is to present the ongoing narrative about the assassination and legacy of President Kennedy through significant historical artifacts, personal accounts and stories that continue to emerge and provoke discussion even 50 years later,” she said. Some of the Museum’s special projects in recognition of the anniversary year include:
Updated Audio Tour
The new self-guided audio tour uses touchscreen technology and multi-media content to provide more in-depth information about each section of the Museum’s featured exhibit, “John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation.” Visitors are able to fast forward, rewind or return to various sections within the exhibit and explore additional content. Narrated by Pierce Allman, the first reporter to broadcast from the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963, the tour also incorporates a number of commentaries from eyewitnesses and others from the Museum’s Oral History Collection. Visitors can access rare archival audio selections, such as interviews with Abraham Zapruder, early news reports, and excerpts from President Kennedy’s speeches. The new audio tour, unveiled earlier this month, is currently offered in English and an English Family version; Spanish will be available in early December and additional languages will be introduced throughout the year. The audio tour is included with admission.
JFK Resource Consortium
As part of its commitment to providing access to its growing historical collections, the Museum has created the JFK Resource Consortium, designed to facilitate access to JFK-related historical materials for scholarly researchers, students, educators, journalists and the general public. The online resource guide provides a link to 24 institutions, including The Sixth Floor Museum, that hold materials relating to President Kennedy. The website (www.jfk.org/go/reading-room/consortium) describes the collections and provides contact information for museums, universities, libraries, city archives, national archives and historical societies across Texas. More collecting institutions will be added to the site throughout the year.
2013 Living History Series
The daytime Living History series will draw upon the Museum’s rapidly growing Oral History Project and present original stories and memories from individuals who witnessed the assassination or other historic events of the early 1960s. Each monthly program will link the past to the present through firsthand accounts from reporters, law enforcement officials, doctors, military personnel and everyday citizens who witnessed or, in some cases, made history. Dates and presenters for the 2013 Living History Series are available on the Museum’s website at www.jfk.org/go/events.
In addition to the monthly Living History programs, The Sixth Floor Museum will present a series of evening programs throughout the year, including a multi-program collaboration with Southern Methodist University’s Tower Center. In recognition of Presidents Day, the series will begin with “The Politics of Memory” on February 19, 2013. Additional programs in partnership with other organizations featuring authors, historians, filmmakers and eyewitnesses are currently in development.
Exhibit and Experience Enhancements
The Museum’s sixth floor exhibit will receive several featured updates, including a new Legacy film, a variety of interactive components, and the addition of new artifacts. A special traveling exhibit, “The American President: Photographs from the Archives of The Associated Press,” will be on display on the Museum’s seventh floor August 18 – October 27, 2013.
Longford said The Sixth Floor Museum will offer a yearlong period of reflection upon the impact of President Kennedy’s life and legacy and encourage the sharing of memories from the City of Dallas, the State of Texas, the nation and the world. “The Museum is honored to be working on numerous collaborations with a variety of organizations that will result in programming and special projects that document this significant period of remembrance, contemplation and discussion,” Longford said. “The 50th anniversary is an opportunity to create renewed awareness of our subject matter and the role the Museum and historic sites play in helping shape and interpret the power of memory, as well as inspire visitors and younger generations to learn from the events of November 1963.”
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
The Sixth Floor Museum is located at 411 Elm Street in Dallas’ Historic West End. For more information, go to www.jfk.org or call 214.747.6660.