A memorial to President Kennedy on the sixth floor of the former Texas Schoolbook Depository, from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired the shots that killed him, will open on Presidents Day, organizers say.
The exhibit titled "The Sixth Floor: John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation" does not dwell on the 1963 assassination in its photos, films and other items, but on the slain president's legacy, its creators said."This exhibit is an attempt to deal with it positively, in that it is educational. It is objective. I think it is extremely sensitive, and I think it is dignified," said Conover Hunt, the exhibit's project director.
The 9,000-square-foot exhibit, which opens to the public Monday, includes 350 photographs, 30 original artifacts, a 30-minute audio tour and six films. It was built at a cost of $1.3 million and organized by the Dallas County Historical Foundation.
An estimated 500,000 visitors a year will view the exhibit, which covers Kennedy's political career, his assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, and the investigations that followed, Ms. Hunt said.
Reporters were given a preview last week of the exhibit, which is housed in what is now the Dallas County Administration Building.
Replicas of schoolbook boxes are stacked near the southeast corner window from which Oswald allegedly fired the fatal shots. The area is sealed off, but visitors will be able to look through a glass partition and adjacent windows to Dealey Plaza and the Kennedy motorcade route.
"The exhibit has extraordinarily famous photographs, taken by some of America's most talented photographers through the years," Ms. Hunt said. "We looked at thousands of visuals to select the 350 that are in this exhibit."
Allen Mondell of Dallas, who with his wife, Cynthia, produced and directed the films, said one segment has the formidable task of chronicling "1,000 days of the Kennedy presidency in five minutes."
"We did not want museum visitors, through these films, to feel that they were in a morbid place that concerned death," Mondell said. "But we wanted to convey hope for the future - the Kennedy legacy."
All visitors will undergo a security check, using a metal detector and X-ray machine, before entering the ground-floor visitors' center, which was built at a cost of $2.2 million.
"Vandalism is a major concern in museums," Ms. Hunt said.
Thousands of tourists have come to the building previously, but could not go to the sixth floor because it was closed.