New JFK exhibit at Sixth Floor Museum includes rare Fort Worth artifact
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas will commemorate the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination with a special exhibition, "Two Days in Texas," which revisits his November 1963 trip to Texas through eyewitness accounts and his own words.
Opening November 8, the exhibition takes a new approach 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.
The exhibition will include original film footage, photographs, news articles, personal items, and new acquisitions, including the original Air Force One passenger manifest detailing the President’s trip throughout Texas, and a newly acquired trombone from a member of the Fort Worth high school band that performed his final "Hail to the Chief."
President Kennedy opened his Texas visit on November 21, 1963, with speeches in San Antonio and Houston that focused on Texas' role in medical research, space exploration, and national security.
The next morning, on November 22, he delivered an impromptu speech for a crowd of several thousand that 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.
He then traveled to Dallas, where he was assassinated in a motorcade at 12:30 pm on the way to a luncheon. A planned visit to Austin would go unrealized.
Drawn from the museum’s collection of more than 95,000 artifacts relating to the assassination, highlights include:
- 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
- The original Air Force One passenger manifest with details of the President’s trip to 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 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 Dallas Trade Mart luncheon that President Kennedy was expected to attend.
- The record album sent to Texas Welcome Dinner ticketholders 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
“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,” said Nicola Longford, Chief Executive Officer of The Sixth Floor Museum, in a statement. “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.”
Designed to preserve the memory of the national tragedy, "Two Days in Texas" will also convey the turbulence felt by Texans who witnessed the events of November 21 and 22, 1963.
The exhibition, on view through June 16, 2024, is part of a series of 60th anniversary programming organized by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza; additional initiatives will be announced in the coming months.