The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will commemorate the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination with a special exhibition revisiting his November 1963 trip to Texas through eyewitness accounts and his own words. Opening November 8, 2023, Two Days in Texas takes a new approach to telling the story of the assassination by tracing the President’s footsteps through each of the cities on his last presidential tour, giving greater insight into the purpose and impact of his visit through eyewitness accounts, original film footage, photographs, news articles, personal items, and new acquisitions.
The exhibition is on view through June 16, 2024.
“In commemorating 60 years since this American tragedy, we wanted to reflect more deeply on President Kennedy’s time in Texas through his words, and the words and experiences of everyday Texans who he encountered, from the vantage point of today,” Nicola Longford, Chief Executive Officer of The Sixth Floor Museum, said. “In them, we can find truths that resonate with the current political moment, and the very ideals and struggles that continue to shape the public discourse.”
President Kennedy opened his Texas visit on November 21, 1963, with speeches in San Antonio and Houston focusing on Texas’ role in medical research, space exploration, and national security in the coming years. The following morning, he delivered an impromptu speech for a crowd of several thousand that had waited in the rain to see him at his Fort Worth hotel before giving what would be his final speech at a breakfast hosted by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.
After the tragic assassination on the afternoon of November 22, two speeches meant for audiences in Dallas and Austin were left undelivered, replaced by the somber remarks of Lyndon B. Johnson upon returning to Washington, D.C. as the newly sworn-in President of the United States.
The effects of the assassination rippled out from Dallas and were profoundly felt throughout the world. But the impact on the state of Texas was more personal in nature—not only did the assassination take place here; thousands of Texans had flocked to see the President at each stop in his Texas tour. The excitement surrounding the President’s visit, paired with the forward-looking vision he presented in his delivered speeches, combined to heighten feelings of shock over President Kennedy’s unexpected and untimely death.
Engaging current generations in preserving the memory of this national tragedy, Two Days in Texas provides visitors new insight into the turbulence felt by everyday Texans who bore witness to the events of November 21 and 22, 1963 and its continued resonance 60 years later. The exhibition is organized chronologically through a series of vignettes tracing President Kennedy’s tour through Texas and featuring historical artifacts, documents, moving and still images, Kennedy’s own remarks, and first-hand accounts from San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin.
Drawn from the museum’s collection of over 95,000 artifacts relating to the assassination, highlights include:
- The original Air Force One passenger manifest detailing the President’s trip throughout Texas and back to Dulles International Airport (VA).
- A photograph from The Dallas Morning News depicting a crowd chasing after the presidential motorcade in San Antonio on November 21, 1963.
- A trombone played by Eastern Hills High School band member, William Cravens, at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast, which marked the last time “Hail to the Chief” was performed for President Kennedy.
- A newly produced sequential video of the Kennedy motorcade in Dealey Plaza, using amateur home movies to fully document the turns from Main Street to Houston Street to Elm Street, the assassination and the limousine speeding beneath the Triple Underpass on its way to Parkland Memorial Hospital. This innovative video showcases the Museum’s extensive holdings of eyewitness films, including the recent acquisitions of the Mark Bell and Jack Daniel 8mm home movies.
- The bloodied shirt of Dr. Robert McClelland, who was among the physicians inside Trauma Room One in Parkland’s Emergency Room during the resuscitation efforts for President Kennedy following the shooting. Juxtaposing what was planned with what had happened, the shirt is paired with an image of the table setting for the DallasTrade Mart luncheon that President Kennedy was expected to attend.
- The record album sent to Texas Welcome Dinner ticket holders by the State Democratic Executive Committee featuring the President’s three delivered speeches on the trip to Texas and text of the undelivered speeches in Dallas and Austin.
Two Days in Texas is part of a series of 60th anniversary programming organized by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the only museum dedicated to the assassination of President Kennedy. Additional initiatives will be announced in the coming months.
ABOUT THE SIXTH FLOOR MUSEUM AT DEALEY PLAZA
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is the only museum dedicated to the history of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a watershed moment that changed the course of American history. Located in the former Texas School Book Depository building in downtown Dallas, the Museum provides unparalleled insight into this generation-defining moment in the very place where the sniper’s perch was discovered, providing an authentic, powerful connection to the events of November 22, 1963, and those that surround it.
Located at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, the Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit jfk.org or call 214.747.6660.
Admission: $18 Adult, $16 Senior, $14 Youth (children aged 5 and under are free).history