Many visitors express curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and this new series, “The Sixth Floor Museum: Behind the Scenes,” was created to answer those questions. It takes a lot of hard work and daily attention to every detail to protect and preserve the 50,000+ objects in our collection. From a multitude newspaper clippings to the recognizable Hertz sign formerly atop the Texas School Book Depository, there’s a myriad of exciting, interesting and unique items. The care of these objects is varied as well, and our Collections staff is up for the challenge of looking after a large array of objects. A number of items are on loan to the Museum, and the staff cares for these objects just as if they were our own. One such object is the FBI model, on display on the sixth floor.
Owned by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the FBI Model is on long-term loan to The Sixth Floor Museum, where it has been on display since 1995. The model was built by the FBI in 1964 to help investigate the Kennedy assassination and was also later used by the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations when they conducted their investigations. There are very strict conditions, especially regarding lighting, for this special object and the Museum is diligent about ensuring these conditions are met.
Recently, Abigail Aldrich, Exhibits Conservator at NARA, stopped by to assess the condition of the model. Aldrich says that one of the most interesting things about the FBI Model is that because it was developed specifically to assist with a criminal investigation, it was not built to last forever. For example, the shrubs and trees in the model are made with natural sponge, which is very fragile. Over time, tiny pieces might start to come off. Aldrich says this can’t be totally avoided, but meticulous care can help slow the aging process.
As a part of her assessment, Aldrich performed what is known as a “condition check” on the FBI Model. To do this, she compared the model’s current state to what was previously noted by NARA, checked for areas of concern and ran numerous tests. Light levels, temperature and humidity are monitored to make sure that those levels meet the exacting standards NARA sets in place for all objects on loan. Aldrich says that though she expected there to be significant change since the last time NARA checked the object, she was impressed by its overall condition.
The FBI Model is encased in special UV-filtered glass that keeps as much light as possible out of its case without obstructing one’s view of the model. To help prevent damage from light, the Collections department monitors surrounding light levels with both an environmental monitor and a light reader installed inside the FBI model case. If testing reveals that levels are incorrect, staff adjusts the model’s exposure to light sources. Sometimes, this means removing or rearranging light around the case.
Very little about the model’s condition has changed since the last time it was inspected by NARA. That’s a testament to The Sixth Floor Museum’s commitment to preservation and to the strong working relationship between NARA and our Collections staff.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 Amy Yen, Marketing Manager, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
If you thought teachers took the whole summer off, you’d be wrong. A group of educators spent an afternoon at the Museum last week at the first teacher workshop for our new exhibit, A Time For Greatness: The 1960 Kennedy Campaign.
“We’re so thrilled that we are able to offer an exhibit about the 1960 presidential election during the 2016 presidential election year. We are able to expand the conversation and curriculum that we are able to offer teachers, and make direct connections from both of these historic election years,” said Ani Simmons, Education Programs Coordinator at The Sixth Floor Museum.
This workshop is just one of many teacher workshops and education programs offered by the Museum throughout the year to help educators teach their students about this critical time in history.
“Our goal with teacher workshops is really to show educators and their students how they can learn something new outside the four walls of the classroom,” said Ani.
“I think Kennedy’s legacy is something all generations need to know about. The lessons we can learn from him go on and on,” said Julie Hershenberg, a Government and Political Science instructor at Collin College and original member of the Museum’s Teacher Advisory Committee.
“Today we’re discussing this phenomenal exhibit about the 1960 election and it’s just perfect with students asking lots of questions about this year’s election. I think it’s important they see how Kennedy handled his election and see the issues that are still prevalent today.”
The teachers participated in a Q&A with Museum curator Stephen Fagin, who discussed the particular historic significance of the 1960 election, which is often considered the first modern day presidential campaign. It is noted for being the first election to feature televised debates, something Kennedy used to great success.
“I thought the media emphasis from 1960, especially the importance of TV, is definitely is applicable to my lessons,” said David Crocker, who teaches US History & Psychology at Juan Seguin High School in Arlington. “I also thought it was important to see how Kennedy’s campaign targeted all different groups, like the ad in the exhibit where Jackie [Kennedy] was speaking Spanish. You can definitely see how that reflects to elections today.”
Teachers also sampled TEKS-aligned education programs being offered in conjunction with the exhibit and toured the exhibit to see artifacts, photographs and video from the 1960 election for themselves.
“It’s important we find these connections in history and compare them to what’s happening now,” said David. “Being able to relate the 1960 election to what’s going on with Hillary and Trump help the kids see that oh, this isn’t something new. These issues have come up before and we’re still debating them, all these years later.”
To some teachers, there were more tangible benefits to seeing the new exhibit.
“I took pictures from the exhibit that I’m going to put into my own lessons for the fall semester,” said Julie. “And I loved the mock campaign headquarters. Obviously I took a selfie.”
For our new exhibit A Time For Greatness, The 1960 Kennedy Campaign, we’re getting talkative! Join members of our curatorial staff every other Friday at noon throughout the summer and fall for 30-minute informal Gallery Talks related to our exhibit. Talks are free with Museum admission or $5 if you just want to come for the talk and to see the exhibit. We kick off the series this Friday with Highlights from A Time For Greatness. Here are all the topics we’ll cover in our series:
Highlights from A Time for Greatness
June 10, June 23, July 22, September 30
Photographs and artifacts tell unique and sometimes surprising stories. Join our collections staff inside our new temporary exhibit as we highlight our favorite—and most interesting—objects and images from the 1960 campaign, including materials from Senator Kennedy’s visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in September 1960.
When LBJ and Lady Bird Came to Dallas in 1960
July 8, September 16
In the final days of the 1960 campaign, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson and his wife Lady Bird were accosted by demonstrators while visiting Dallas. This incident gained national media attention at the time, and it would return immediately after the assassination in 1963 as a powerful example of the city’s volatile political atmosphere. Through photographs, newspaper accounts, and Museum oral histories, we will explore this extraordinary encounter at the Adolphus Hotel on November 4, 1960—the myth and the reality—and the long-term impact that this incident had on the public perception of Dallas, Texas.
1960 Campaign Wives
August 5, October 14
Mrs. Nixon and Mrs. Kennedy both supported their husbands as they campaigned for president but did so in very different ways. Mrs. Nixon accompanied her husband everywhere and he referred to her in almost every speech. Mrs. Kennedy hated campaigning and avoided it when possible – aided in part by her pregnancy. We will explore these two unique women and their personalities through film clips from the campaign trail as well as 1960 magazines and photographs from the Museum’s collections.
Coffee with the Curators
August 19, November 11
There is much more to the story of the 1960 campaign than we were able to tell in our A Time for Greatness exhibit. Join our curatorial staff for an informal question-and-answer session as we explore many of the topics touched on in the exhibit as well as new areas that our audience would like to discuss.
PT-109 and the 1960 Campaign
September 2, October 28
On August 2, 1943, Lt. John F. Kennedy’s motor torpedo boat PT-109 was sunk in the Pacific Theater. Kennedy, clenching a life jacket strap between his teeth to tow one injured crewmember, swam for four hours to lead survivors to a nearby island. This dramatic tale of World War II heroism framed Senator Kennedy’s political narrative as he ran for president in 1960. We will discuss the impact that the PT-109 story had on Kennedy’s life and career, including a special screening of a five-minute 1960 campaign commercial hosted by actor Henry Fonda.