In 2014, the Sixth Floor Museum marked its 25th anniversary. It opened to the public in 1989, 25 years after tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the very building, the Texas Book Depository, that most think was where Lee Harvey Oswald squeezed off the fatal shot. The area where Oswald is thought to have crouched and pulled the trigger is enclosed in plexiglass and filled with the same sorts of boxes that would have been there on the fateful day of the assassination. And if that were all that the museum contained, it would likely still draw thousands of visitors per year. But this savvy museum goes much further in unwinding the facts and theories that surround an event that abruptly altered the course of American history.
Your visit will start, as it should, with a focus on JFK, both the man and his times. Well-paced and even erudite at times, the first part of the museum explores the social trends that shaped the 1960s, from the Civil Rights struggles to the Cold War, in photos, videos, and wall texts. Visitors also gain insights into the President himself, some of his foibles (even Marilyn Monroe is mentioned), and his signature achievements while in office.
The meat of the museum, of course, deals with the events of November 22, 1963. While none of the original evidence collected by the Warren Commission is on display—that is in the National Archives in Washington, DC—some 400 photos tell the tale, as do detailed dioramas of the area, videos, stills from the famous Zapruder film, and absorbing wall text. Conspiracy theories are discussed in a fashion that's both deftly balanced and still quite fascinating. Even those who have read books on the assassination—my guess is many visitors have—will walk out having learned something new.
And they'll walk right onto Dealey Plaza, which looks shockingly small in real life. An X in the road still marks the spot where the President was shot—but please don't try and take a photo there as the traffic zooms through this area, making it quite dangerous.
Important Note: Tickets are for timed entry that admits patrons every 30 minutes. As this is the most popular museum in Texas, it's wise to get tickets in advance as it does sell out.