Everything You Need to Know to Visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
The 1960s were a decade of unforgettable change for the United States—change that shook the country to its core. But amidst all of chaos and protest, on November 22, 1963, the entire country fell silent. The 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas, while traveling with a presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza.
On that day, children were sent home from school, business ground to a halt, and families sat in front of their television sets to witness tragic news reports all weekend long. After the country grieved, it healed, but the impact of that day lives on in eternity. The Sixth Floor Museum chronicles the events of that dark moment in history and prompts visitors to remember the legacy of President Kennedy and how his death changed the country in a split second.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
As its name indicates, The Sixth Floor Museum is located on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository, the same floor and building where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired the shots that fatally wounded Kennedy. For those who were alive to witness the tragedy that unfolded that November day, and for the generations to follow who have learned of the president’s legacy and its abrupt end, The Sixth Floor Museum is educational, emotional and thought-provoking.
Permanent Exhibits at The Sixth Floor Museum
John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation
John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation is the museum’s primary exhibit. It is dedicated to providing historical context for the events surrounding November 22, 1963, and the aftermath that unfolded as a result of Kennedy’s unexpected death. The museum itself is the scene of the crime, and the experience that comes from viewing the historic photos, news reports and footage is one that cannot entirely be expressed in words.
The Early 1960s
Beginning with the dawn of a new era—the 1960s—this exhibit walks you through the political and social landscape of the country both before and during Kennedy’s presidential term. You will also gain insight into the life of Kennedy, his family, and the issues that he had to face head-on after taking his presidential oath and embarking on his journey as the 35th President of the United States.
The Trip to Texas
After you’ve fully absorbed the momentous events of the early 1960s, the exhibit takes you to the fateful day of November 22, 1963, displaying a short video that highlights the two-day trip through Texas and the delighted crowds that awaited his arrival, ready to cheer on their president. This portion of the exhibit also delves into the political and social atmosphere of the city of Dallas during the time of the assassination.
The Corner Window
The Corner Window is the scene of the crime. Shots were fired at the motorcade moving through Dealey Plaza, striking President John F. Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally. Law enforcement soon arrived to investigate. Within 45 minutes, three shells were found in the southeast corner of he sixth floor. This part of the exhibit recreates the scene based on crime scene photographs, but the corner itself is protected with glass walls so viewers can look but not disturb the scene. Interactive screens overlook Dealey Plaza and add a sense of realism to the event, seeing just where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly made his sniper’s perch.
The Crisis Hours
This portion of the exhibit follows the tumultuous 48-hour period after the assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald, a temporary employee at the Texas School Book Depository, was charged with the murder of Officer J.D. Tippit, as well as the murder of President Kennedy. Less than 48 hours later, Oswald was shot in the Dallas Police Department basement by Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner. In The Crisis Hours exhibit, you can see artifacts relating to Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald, including Oswald’s wedding ring, Ruby’s hat, and the camera of Dallas Times Herald photographer Bob Jackson, who took the Pulitzer-Prize-winning photograph of the shooting.
You’ll be riveted by the thought-provoking speculations that came to light following the release of the 889-page investigative report that was presented to Kennedy’s successor and the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson. The report concluded that there was no evidence of conspiracy in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Watch a short video about the investigation while visual displays showcase photographic evidence, forensic and ballistic tests, and other artifacts, including the scaled model of Dealey Plaza made for the Warren Commission by the FBI and the cameras used by 12 eyewitnesses.
Though President John F. Kennedy’s life was cut tragically short, he left behind a lasting legacy. Watch a ten-minute film highlighting his achievements and impact on civil rights, arts and culture, volunteerism, space, and technology.
The Corner Staircase
See The Corner Staircase—the other half of the crime scene—recreated from real crime scene photos taken on November 22, 1963, and a replica of the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found at the northwest corner of the sixth floor.
The Memory Books
This is where thousands of Americans and visitors from around the world have left their comments, memories or feelings regarding the museum, President Kennedy, and the tragedy that echoed across the nation. Those who were alive when the assassination took place recall with vivid detail where they were, what they were doing, and how it all came to a stop when the news broke. Others speak of how the museum brings an incomparable sense of realism to the event for those who are not old enough to remember that day. Seeing in writing the shared thoughts and feelings of strangers may inspire you to leave your own for others. The Memory Books are the last stop at The Sixth Floor Museum.
The Audio Guide
Follow the narration of Pierce Allman, the first reporter on scene at the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963, as he guides visitors through The Sixth Floor Museum. The audio guide is included with admission and is available in multiple languages. An ASL guide is also available for visitors who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
The Seventh Floor
If you climb the stairs up to the Seventh Floor, you’ll find temporary exhibits and special programs related to Kennedy.
The Sixth Floor Museum Webcam
A webcam is setup in the corner window to record the view of Dealey Plaza below where the President was shot in the motorcade. Though you won’t be able to see the direct view yourself, you can see Dealey Plaza through the window adjacent. You can check out the stream on The Sixth Floor Museum website here.
The First Floor Reading Room
Find the answers to your burning questions here—a place for researchers to explore a vast collection of books, films, photographs, artifacts and oral history recordings on subjects relating to Kennedy and beyond. The Reading Room is open to the public but by appointment only and is closed weekends and most major holidays. The hours for the Reading Room are 9:30am to 4pm.
The Sixth Floor Museum Public Programs
The museum hosts many public programs dedicated to providing visitors with more information about the Kennedy presidency, the assassination, and his life’s work. Check out the event calendar for more information.
The Sixth Floor Museum Hours
The Sixth Floor Museum is open on Mondays from 12pm to 6pm and Tuesday through Sundays from 10am to 6pm. The Museum Store and Cafe is open daily from 9:30am to 6pm and offers sandwiches, salads, ice cream, hot and cold beverages, pastries, fruit smoothies and more. Special program hours vary, so be sure to check the event calendar before visiting.
The Sixth Floor Museum Tickets
You can find ticket prices on the museum’s website. If you plan on sightseeing throughout Dallas, you may want to consider getting Dallas CityPASS tickets, which save you up to 40% on admission to Dallas’ top four attractions, including The Sixth Floor Museum.
The Sixth Floor Museum Parking
Paid parking is adjacent to the parking; stay in the far right lane of Elm Street to enter the parking lot. If you’re taking public transportation, the museum is just three blocks west from the West End Station, which connects to all DART lines.
Tips and Tricks for a Better Visit at The Sixth Floor Museum
The museum is a popular place and frequently gets very busy. The Sixth Floor Museum uses timed ticketing and on weekends some time slots often sell out. Purchasing tickets in advance online at jkf.org will reduce the time spent waiting in line. A CityPASS booklet will get you entry into the next available time slot, so you can spend more of your day learning and exploring and less of it waiting. CityPASS holders can visit the museum up to two days ahead of their planned visit to get their timed admission ticket.
For a visit with the most elbow room, try to get to the museum on weekday afternoons. On crowded days, you might end up waiting to see the exhibits. There is limited photography allowed on the sixth floor, but you can take photos on the seventh floor if you want an approximate view of the grassy knoll.
JFK Memorial Plaza
If you’re looking to expand upon your experience, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza is just a few blocks away at 646 Main Street. Designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson as a cenotaph, or “open tomb,” the memorial features tall unattached walls that encase a large black granite square plaque with the President's name inscribed in gold. This memorial encourages reflection and contemplation and is a perfect bookend to your Sixth Floor Museum experience.