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Remembering JFK: The Sixth Floor Museum

A view from the sixth floor reveals Elm Street in the foreground and the “grassy knoll” in the lower right-hand corner.

In the 20 years following the assassination, the seven-story, red brick building that housed the Book Depository changed hands and survived arson. A plan to open a commercial JFK museum there never materialized. In 1977, Dallas County bought the building, and officials set aside the sixth floor, the apparent vantage point from which alleged sniper Lee Harvey Oswald had shot the president. The remaining floors were renovated for use as administrative offices, and, in 1981, the county renamed the structure the Dallas County Administration Building.

Museum Facts

The Sixth Floor Museum, 411 Elm St., chronicles the life and death of President John F. Kennedy. It is  on the sixth floor of the Dallas County Administration Building (formerly the Texas School Book Depository) in downtown Dallas.

The former depository and its surroundings were designated as the Dealey Plaza Historic Landmark District on Nov. 22, 1993.

Audio tours (highly recommended) are available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. A children's audio guide is available in English.

The Museum Store offers books, newspaper reprints, and memorabilia.

The museum maintains archives for research purposes.

A memorial park at Main and Market streets features a monument and cenotaph dedicated to President Kennedy.

 

In 1983, Dallas County officials, along with volunteer Lindalyn Bennett Adams and other members of the Dallas County Historical Foundation, began developing plans for a museum honoring John F. Kennedy. On February 20, 1989, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, situated on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository, opened to the public.

A visit here can be at once enlightening, painful, and cathartic. The museum, through some 400 still photographs, six short films, and numerous artifacts, leads you through a thought-provoking study of the life and final moments of our 35th president. It also provides factual presentations on the aftermath of the assassination, the four official investigations of the crime, and several of the conspiracy theories that have arisen.

The journey begins as you exit the elevator that carries you from the Visitors Center on the ground floor. If you choose the recorded tour, the pleasant voice of Pierce Allman guides you to a large photograph of the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository as it appeared on the fatal day. Allman–at the time, a program director for radio station WFAA-AM, but not covering the presidential visit officially–explains that on that Friday, he stood across the street from the Depository, watching the motorcade. After the shooting, he ran to the building to call the station. "I asked a man who was leaving where the phone was," says Allman. "The Secret Service later identified that man as Lee Harvey Oswald."

The museum's audio and pictorial tribute to John F. Kennedy continues with taped excerpts from JFK's 1960 campaign speeches, campaign photographs, and a poster touting Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Sound effects, interview comments from bystanders and dignitaries, and the words of Kennedy himself re-create the nation's mood before the assassination.

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