by Amy Yen, Marketing Manager, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Employee Spotlight: Megan Bryant
Title: Director of Collections and Interpretation
Worked at the Museum: 20 years this month(!)
Hometown: Evanston, Illinois
1) Congrats on reaching 20 years at the Museum! Did you think when you started here, that you’d be here that long?
No, not at all. It doesn’t seem possible! I was 26 years old when I started here, or 7 days removed from my 27th birthday, very early in my career, and I thought, five years – tops. I wasn’t from Texas and it was just my second professional museum job after a short-term position in Illinois. I thought, I’ll be there five years, then I’ll move on. And 20 years later…
2) How did you get your start here?
The Museum had only been open seven years when I started here, so still relatively new. At that time, I’d been working as a temporary project curator at a small museum in Illinois, and I was looking for something more permanent in museum collections. The Sixth Floor Museum at the time was looking for their first museum registrar, and so I applied. As registrar, I oversaw the Museum’s collections management systems and practices and developed policies and procedures for the care and documentation of the collections. In simple terms, I kept track of the collection—physically, intellectually and legally.
3) What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since you’ve been here?
It’s a completely different place. The Museum has grown and evolved so much since I’ve been here. There were 20 people working here when I started—today, we have more than 50. We didn’t have the offices we’re in now. Most of us were in the basement of the Visitors Center. We had a collection of about 15,000—it’s up to more than 50,000 today, and we’re still growing! The Museum was so young when I started, so of course there’s growth and development, and it’s been pretty cool to witness that.
4) What’s your fondest memory?
I remember in 2008, when we developed an exhibit about Bob Jackson called A Photographer’s Story. It was very shortly after I was promoted to Director of Collections, and it was the first exhibit we’d put together with me in that position. We completely developed that exhibit in house, and it was a project I oversaw. When it was finally done, it was a great feeling of accomplishment. I remain very proud of that exhibit and the work our team did to put it together.
Similarly, when we did the updates on the Sixth Floor for the 50th anniversary in 2013. Even though it involved a week of overnight work because the Museum would be open during the day, so we could only work on the updates at night. We had some late nights and even two all-nighters. It was difficult and a challenge, but it was great when it was all done.
5) What’s your favorite object in the collection?
My favorite object in the collection is this little medal commemorative coin from a company called The Southern Rock Island Plow Company. They were the first business that was in the building at 411 Elm Street. The original building was built in 1898 and it was a five-story building, and it was occupied by the Southern Rock Island Plow Company. The building was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in 1901, and the building that came to be known as the Texas School Book Depository was built on its foundation, as a seven-story building. This little medallion has an engraving of the five-story building on it. It’s the oldest item in our collection, and every time I see it, I think about, if that building hadn’t burned down, there only would have been a five-story building here. It’s possible a company called the Texas School Book Depository could have still been there in 1963, but what might have been different, if there were no sixth floor? I love that it’s the oldest item in the collection—it’s even older than the building!
6) If you could say something to your younger self of 20 years ago when you first started here, what would you say?
You have no idea what you’re in for! And who are you kidding that you’re only going to be there for 5 years? Dallas will become your home. You’ll meet some great people. You’re going to be part of the growth of an incredible museum. Brace yourself, it’s going to be an interesting ride.
Congrats to Megan on 20 amazing years at The Sixth Floor Museum! Want to join Megan’s team? We’re hiring! Check out JFK.org/careers for open positions.
by Ani Simmons, Education Program Coordinator, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Teachers! Congrats on surviving the first week back to school with students! As a former teacher, I know this is always a great week of meeting new students and an exhausting week as you look ahead to the next 180 days of instruction.
Here at The Sixth Floor Museum, we have lots of resources to enhance your school year and hopefully, you’ll be able to take advantage of some of them.
In addition to our permanent exhibit, which tells the story of President Kennedy’s assassination and its impact, we have 2 special temporary exhibits this year that are certain to fit into your curriculum. Of course, you can book a school visit to the Museum at anytime.
A Time For Greatness: The 1960 Kennedy Campaign, through November 13, 2016
It’s the final few months of our special election year exhibit about one of the closest elections in U.S. history, Kennedy’s victory over Richard Nixon in 1960. Don’t miss this in-depth look at what is often considered to be the first modern day presidential campaign—noted for being the first election to feature a televised debate, the first to include all 50 states and the first to elect a president born in the 20th century.
Check out our TEK-aligned education program and lesson plans available at JFK.org/ATimeForGreatness, and don’t forget to book your trip to visit the exhibit before it closes after Election Day!
Amending America: The Bill of Rights, A National Archives and Records Administration Traveling Exhibit, January 24 – March 16, 2017
This special spring exhibit marks the 225th Anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Students will learn about how the first 10 amendments came to be and how each amendment protects our citizens.
Amending America: The Bill of Rights was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. The national tour is presented in part by AT&T, History®, Seedlings Foundation, and the National Archives Foundation.
Stay tuned for public and education programs and pre/post-visit lesson information!
Did you know you can get more out of your visit to the Museum by adding a 50-minute in-depth program presented by the Museum‘s Educator and Curatorial staff? Programs are primary-source based and cover Texas standards related to critical thinking, primary sources and general social studies skills in grades 5-12. (National Standards can be found here.) Our Core Education Programs cover topics such as:
- Civil rights
- Elections and politics
- The Space Race and the Cold War
- Crime scene investigation and law enforcement
- Oral histories
Most programs are available 3 ways: at the Museum, at your school or via distance learning (DL) and range in price from $50 to $125. Visit JFK.org/education to see detailed program information and book today!
Primary Source Research Opportunities
Do you have a student (or several) interested in being part of the National History Day competition in 2017? The theme, Taking a Stand in History, has lots of connection possibilities to The Sixth Floor Museum! Find out more by checking out our FREE research library, the Reading Room, and the topical resource guides that our librarian has created just for you and your students who are interested in several popular topics, including: Civil Rights, Cuba, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, reporters, investigators and eyewitnesses to the Kennedy assassination and many more!
We offer teacher workshops mainly in the summer months; however, with special temporary exhibits we often offer teacher previews and workshops on the day before of the first day of the exhibit opening! Join our teacher email list and be the first to know about these special workshops and other special events throughout the year. Email email@example.com and ask to be put on the educator email list!
Did you know, as an educator, you can get discounted admission to the Museum with a valid educator ID? See President Kennedy’s story for just $8.50 year-round!
As a bonus, educators also get a 10% discount at the Museum Store+Café!
It is my pleasure to do what I can to make your job easier! Let me know how I can help! Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit JFK.org/education anytime for more information about all we have to offer!
Have a great year and we’ll see you at the museum!
by Krishna Shenoy, Librarian/Archivist, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
In the immediate aftermath of a national tragedy, the reaction of a president can set the tone for how a nation will heal and the magnitude of the scars that will remain. In the hours after the assassination of President Kennedy, that task was given to Lyndon B. Johnson.
Only two hours after the fatal shot, on Air Force One, Johnson took the oath of office with Mrs. Kennedy by his side. When the plane landed in Washington, D.C., his statement to the American people was brief: “This is a sad time for all people. We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed. For me, it is a deep, personal tragedy. I know the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best; that is all I can do. I ask for your help…and God’s.” In his book Flawed Giant, historian Robert Dallek called Johnson a “master therapist, soothing the nation with sincerity and wisdom.”
In Washington, Johnson found himself with the burden of moving a grieving nation forward. On November 23, 1963, (the day after the assassination) after viewing the fallen President’s body with other Congressional leaders, Johnson issued a proclamation declaring November 25, 1963, as a National Day of Mourning for President Kennedy. On that day, schools, businesses and government offices closed in observance. Many watched the funeral on television, while others followed Johnson’s call to attend memorial services. Johnson’s actions and words promoted feelings of continuity and unity.
One week after the assassination, on November 29, Johnson issued an executive order appointing a commission (Warren Commission) to “evaluate all the facts and circumstances surrounding such assassination, including the subsequent violent death of the man charged with the assassination, and to report to me its findings and conclusions.” Johnson believed it essential to provide the nation with a convincing explanation of why and how Kennedy was killed. “A troubled, puzzled and outraged nation wanted to know the facts,” he wrote in his memoirs.
Ten months later in 1964, the Warren Commission submitted a report concluding that Oswald had acted alone and there was no evidence of a conspiracy. Johnson could not have predicted that despite his attempt to assuage the public with this investigation, the findings would ultimately exacerbate the nation’s wound and leave scars of suspicion and doubt in the minds of people for decades to come.
Visit the Museum’s Reading Room to learn more about the days following the assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson or any of the books mentioned.
by Stephen Fagin, Curator, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Dallas news and society photographer Andy Hanson was nothing short of a local legend. When he passed away in 2008, almost half a century into his local photographic career, Hanson was called “a beloved institution,” while The Dallas Morning News called his images “not just stills of moments in time, but rather…well-composed works of art.” As a longtime photographer with the Dallas Times Herald, Hanson covered perhaps the most important stories of his career, the Kennedy assassination and aftermath in Dallas.
Now, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is pleased to add the Kennedy-related images of Andy Hanson to its ever-growing Collection of photographs, films, and artifacts.
The Museum’s Andy Hanson Collection includes more than 450 original images covering the 1960 presidential campaign, the assassination weekend, and the Jack Ruby trial in 1964. These photos, including a number of rarely seen images, chronicle the local story with a poignancy rarely found in news photography. They also complement and enhance the Museum’s existing collections of Dallas Times Herald photography by providing exciting new perspectives from the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, Dallas Love Field, the Times Herald newsroom, and other important locations that fateful weekend.
Andy Hanson (1932-2008) started his photojournalism career in the 1950s at the Houston Post before moving to the Dallas Times Herald in 1960. Although occasionally assigned feature, sports, and news photography, he was widely known as the paper’s primary society and party photographer. For the Kennedy visit in November 1963, Hanson was assigned to the Hotel Texas on the night of Thursday, November 21, to photograph the Kennedys’ arrival. Since he did not finish processing his Fort Worth images until the early hours of November 22, instead of a Dallas photo assignment, he managed the paper’s darkroom that day.
Upon learning of the assassination, Hanson rushed to Dallas Love Field in the hopes of photographing Air Force One. Unable to get close enough, he took a series of powerful images inside the terminal as shocked and saddened individuals purchased the first wave of newspapers. Back at the Herald, Hanson was the only photographer to capture the scene inside the newsroom as reporters and editors hurriedly went about their responsibilities. That night, at a Catholic Mass in Oak Cliff, he photographed nuns in prayer. Few in Dallas captured the emotional impact of the assassination on film better than Andy Hanson.
Beyond November 22, 1963, Hanson photographed the Connally family at Parkland Hospital and physicians speaking to the press following the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald. He later photographed the gravesite of slain Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit and covered part of the Jack Ruby trial. Some of his Ruby trial images appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.
Although he was capturing breaking news, largely for immediate publication in the Dallas Times Herald, Andy Hanson always photographed with an eye towards history. Today these unique images provide a timely and meaningful window into the past—exploring tragedy, its impact, and the painful aftermath in the local community.
The majority of the Museum’s collections are donated by generous supporters who want materials preserved for future generations. If you have films, photographs, documents or artifacts related to the story of President Kennedy’s assassination and its ongoing impact, email email@example.com for more information.