John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a NationAll Exhibits
In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed the president. Criticism of the commission's report later launched a controversy that continues to the present day. This section places the Warren Commission—and the official investigations that followed—into historical sequence, outlining the participants, the procedures and the major findings. A short video explains the chronology of investigations over a 25-year period, and visual displays examine the acoustical evidence, photographs, forensic and ballistics tests, and other evidence examined during each major investigation. Featured artifacts include a 10-foot-by-10-foot model of Dealey Plaza prepared by the FBI for the Warren Commission in 1964 and on loan from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., as well as an exhibit of 12 cameras in use in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.
In a 10-minute video hosted by Walter Cronkite, the long-term consequences of the assassination are explored, including Kennedy's legacy of hope, the impact of his administration's programs and the influence of his death at home and abroad. The video is presented in the exhibition's second seated theater. An adjacent wall displays visuals of major Kennedy memorials from around the world.
The Corner Staircase
The second evidential area, where the sniper allegedly exited and where the rifle was later found, is reconstructed as it appeared from police department photographs on November 22, 1963. (The rifle is not on display.)
Because this exhibition is intended to provide an accurate overview of the event and to allow visitors access to this major part of American history, visitors are given the opportunity to record their personal recollections and messages in memory books. As these books are filled, they become a part of the Museum's institutional archives.