While thousands watched in horror, a sniper’s bullet took the life of President John F. Kennedy as he rode past the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas in November 1963. Today, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza recounts the events leading up to and immediately following the president’s fateful visit to Texas. Here’s what you need to know BEFORE you visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
On a beautiful fall day in November 1963, crowds lined the streets of downtown Dallas for a glimpse of the charismatic 35th president of the United States and his elegant wife. As the motorcade slowly rolled past the red brick Texas School Book Depository, shots rang out, killing President Kennedy and wounding Governor Connally.
The spot from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle has been converted into a museum celebrating the life of John F. Kennedy, detailing the events of that fateful day, and preserving his legacy. Here’s what you need to know BEFORE you visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Buy Tickets in Advance
With 400,000 annual visitors from more than 130 countries, The Sixth Floor Museum is one of the most popular attractions in the Big D. Because there are a limited number of entries every half hour, it’s best to purchase your museum tickets in advance.
For a $1 convenience fee, you can buy timed-entry tickets online. Skip-the-line vouchers are also available via the Dallas CityPASS. However, they must be exchanged for a timed ticket at the museum before you can ascend to the sixth floor and begin your tour.
The Museum Opens Later on Mondays
While the museum is typically open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza doesn’t open until noon on Mondays. And the last tickets are sold at 5:15 pm daily. However, I recommend arriving no later than 4:00 pm so that you can get your money’s worth.
It’s Easy to Visit Using Public Transportation
The museum’s location in historic downtown Dallas makes it easy to visit using DART, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system that includes buses and a light rail. Dealey Plaza is just three blocks west of the West End Station and five blocks north of Union Station.
Your Admission Includes an Audio Guide
Narrated by Pierce Allman, the first reporter to broadcast from the book depository the day Kennedy was shot, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a self-guided experience that you can explore at your own pace. It typically takes about 90 minutes to view the museum’s more than 50,000 photographs, films, artifacts, and displays.
You won’t want to miss:
- The Trip to Texas. This display provides background on why the Kennedys were visiting Texas and the warm welcome they received from the moment they stepped off of Air Force One.
- The Corner Window and The Corner Staircase. With the original flooring in place and protected by a glass partition, the southeast corner of the sixth floor has been carefully recreated to depict what it looked like when the sniper hid behind boxes of text books and fired his rifle. And the northwest corner has been recreated to reflect what it looked like when the sniper’s rifle was found.
- Who Did It? In addition to exhibits that capture the chaos that ensued, the nation’s mourning, and the investigation that followed the assassination, this exhibit addresses a 2014 Gallup poll which reported that 61% of Americans believe President Kennedy’s death was part of a conspiracy.
There is Usually More to See on the Seventh Floor
In addition to John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation, the museum’s main exhibit on the sixth floor, there are often additional temporary exhibits on the seventh floor.
And There’s Even More to See Outside the Museum
On the day Kennedy was shot, thousands of well-wishers lined the street and covered the grassy knoll. Today, visitors can stroll along the green space and imagine what it might have been like to wave to the president driving by in an open-top car or witnessing the horrific scene when shots rang out.
On Elm Street, just south of the former Texas School Book Depository, you’ll see two white “x” marks on the pavement. Regardless of what one might think of President Kennedy as either a politician or a person, the stamps on the street indicate where the fatal shot killed Kennedy and wounded Governor Connolly. So I was horrified to see many different people — including a family with small children — run into the middle of a three-lane street and snap smiling selfies. If you do just one thing before you visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, please understand the somber meaning behind those “x” marks and be respectful when you go.
To Visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas
Location: You can visit The Sixth Floor Museum at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, Texas.
Hours: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is open daily from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. However, the museum doesn’t open until noon on Mondays.
Admission Fees: An adult ticket to The Sixth Floor at Dealey Plaza is currently $18.00. Discounted tickets are offered to seniors and youth (ages 6-18). Children under the age of six can visit The Sixth Floor Museum for free unless they’d like their own audio guide, but they still need a timed-entry ticket to access the museum.
Have You Visited The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza?
How would you describe your visit? Do you have any additional tips and tricks to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
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