Friday, April 11, 2014
Dallas Book Depository
Although I like going to museums, it seems as if I am always disappointed with them. They are full of people bumping and jostling each other and they always seem dumbed down to me. The last part I'm sure is because I am an avid history reader and probably know more than the average person which is who they cater too. So when we made it to the 6th Floor Museum at the Dallas Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F. Kennedy, I figured it would be similar to past experiences. While waiting to get a ticket and three school buses of young kids rolled up and got escorted into the museum ahead of us, I figured any enjoyment I might get from going through this museum was now lost. I was pleasantly surprised.
When you entered the museum, they gave you a set of headphones connected to a audio device that allowed you to play an audio track pertaining to what you were looking at. One benefit is that you could go at your own pace which let me allow the kids to get off ahead and out of the way. The biggest benefit however was that it allowed you to disappear inside your own little bubble and immerse yourself in the experience. At times it felt like I was personally getting escorted through the museum by a very knowledgeable curator.
You were not allowed to take pictures in the museum proper which I liked. It allowed you to further immerse yourself in the experience instead of walking around people posing for photographs. As a result, I have no pictures of inside the museum. In the photo above, the middle window on the right is the window that Lee Harvey Oswald shot out of killing President Kennedy. It was enclosed in a giant glass box and preserved so that it looked just like it did on that day. The window above it with the partially opened blinds is on the 7th floor and contains traveling exhibits.
On the day we visited, there were only two giant portraits of President Kennedy and his wife made out of tiny individual pictures of each other. While I was admiring them, the guard said I could go through an open door and look out the windows, the ones you see above with the half open blinds. We were allowed to take pictures on the 7th floor so I took several pictures including the one below. In it you can see where the second and third bullets struck Kennedy marked by the white X's on the pavement. The first bullet didn't hit him. As my oldest daughter and I went back through the door into the museum 7th floor proper, some other museum employees closed off the room and blocked it so my wife and others behind me couldn't see what I saw. I'm glad I got a picture first.
Standing and looking out this window was a very moving experience for me. I wasn't even alive when these events took place but because I was here looking down, it felt almost like I was seeing through the eyes of Oswald as the events unfolded. I was reminded of the computer demonstration that I saw one floor down that showed a virtual unfolding of events as they happened that day.
This is the infamous Grassy Knoll which is hidden behind the trees on the left side of the previous photo. On the far right side of this photo is the spot where the famous Zapruder film was taken of the assassination. After the museum, we walked across the street to sit in the shade trees near the fountain and absorb our surroundings. The whole time I kept feeling the raw emotions of the event from 50 years earlier bubbling up and almost overwhelming me at times. Because it isn't the first time I have visited historic sites, I can only assume it was because it is so well preserved and looks just like it did back then. Anyway, we spent the morning here and it was a very memorable experience and one that I highly recommend to anyone visiting Dallas.
This building has nothing to do with the assassination of Kennedy other than he passed between it and the building just seen on the far left of the photo moments before he turned the corner in front of the Book Depository and shot seconds later. I was just captivated by the architecture and the style of buildings we made back in the day. We certainly don't make them like that anymore.