Museum 3/12: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

One of my goals in 2015 was to visit 12 museums, and to share details about those visits with you. Museums are great places to hide, to socialize, to think, to listen to audiobooks or music and to wander. They are also places to collect inspiration, to ponder, to absorb, to grow and to learn. Hopefully one of my visits will inspire one of yours. 


MUSEUM VISIT 3/12: THE SIXTH FLOOR MUSEUM AT DEALEY PLAZA
DATE OF VISIT: 13 MARCH 2015

It was Friday the 13th and I was in Dallas for a work trip. I was due at the airport in three hours and wanted to partake in one of Dallas' many museums. There are A TON. I chose the 6th Floor Museum because the length of time to tour the museum was estimated at 90 minutes, it's a smaller museum and it centered around a very important piece of history: a historical event and what is now a historical place.

The-6th-Floor-Museum

The rain made for a great day to visit this museum, that—and my colleagues that went with me!  

Upon arrival, we paid for our tickets ($16/adult), then each got headphones attached to an iPhone player with a lanyard so you can wear it around your neck. We queued up and a museum staff member explained what we would expect upstairs. He held the line back in groups to help evenly space the movement through the museum upstairs. After a few minutes, we all got onto an elevator and made our way up to the 6th floor. 

The exhibit was beautiful and emotional. I learned so, so much. This was the first time I attended a museum with a prominent audio component and I have to say, it really made the experience truly immersive. If audio is an option in future museum visits, I will definitely use it.

The audio clips were each about 2 minutes long and guided you from panel to panel.

The-6th-Floor-Museum
the-6th-floor-musuem

I'll share three things that really struck me:

1. The window where Lee Harvey Oswald fired shots was set up essentially exactly as it was on the day of the assassination. It was quite an experience to be looking through the windows at the same road watching cars drive along just as they did on the day of the assassination and see, essentially, exactly what that perspective was like. Truly, the only significant difference from Dealey Plaza then to now is that the trees are taller. It will always stick with me seeing that same viewpoint the assassin saw.

2. The place setting. The Kennedy motorcade was en route to a luncheon where 2,500 guests were waiting with anticipation for the President and First Lady's arrival. There was an image of the room after the attendees had just been told the President had be shot and there they stood with heads bowed in prayer. Could you imagine? Being so excited to have been invited to attend a luncheon with the President, Governor and First Lady and then hear they would not be arriving....and they needed you to pray as they were on the way to the hospital. That must really have been a surreal experience. The museum had on display the exact place setting for JFK. He never got to see it.

On the way to the airport we ended up driving by the luncheon location as it is next to the interstate. It reminded me that we drive by history every day. Sometimes we notice, sometimes we don't.

3. The video of the funerals. There was a short movie that showed the funeral, lying in state, funerals around the world, and all the aspects surrounding his death. It deeply impacted me. It helped me better understand so much of that era in a new way....I understood the impact his death had on civil rights, global peace initiatives and more through seeing the mourning rituals in this way. I didn't really grasp that this was the first event that was televised 24 hours a day.....because now we really truly had TV....and a lot of people had TV. It was something people truly experienced rather than just waiting to read about it in the next day's paper. I take that for granted because I have only ever lived in a world with a television in every home. 

NOTES

1. Keep in mind that you tour the museum with headphones on. It's not a great place to go to chit chat and take in the sights together. It's a very individual, immersive experience. That said, our group of 4 had a really great conversation in the car on the way to the airport.

2. Take the time to listen to the additional audio features and not just the primary audio. For me, one extra section covered the removal of JFK's body from the hospital by the Secret Service and how they did not follow the body removal laws of the time. That is, of course, of interest to me as a deathcare professional. But you will definitely find something of interest to you by listening to those extra clips. 

3. This museum is very accessible to groups, families, wheelchairs and strollers.

4. The gift shop is beautiful and had some really neat non-standard items for sale. There was a green and gold ring there I am still thinking about! :)

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Address: 411 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75202
Phone: (214) 747-6660
Website: http://www.jfk.org