President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. This event changed the city - and the world - forever. As a tribute to this extraordinary man, John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza was dedicated on June 24, 1970. In the years since, it has become an integral part of the city's urban landscape and cultural heritage.
"a place of quiet refuge, an enclosed place of thought and contemplation separated from the city around, but near the sky and earth." - Philip Johnson, Architect
Dallas celebrated the 30th anniversary of the memorial with a comprehensive conservation treatment that restored the monument to its original vitality. IN the summer of 1999, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza undertook management of the memorial, rallying the support of Dallas County and the City of Dallas. The Museum became caretaker of the monument and launched a full-scale restoration project aimed at preserving the memorial and its history. Philip Johnson, the original architect for the monument, guided the restoration process implemented by Corgan Associates, Inc. and Phoenix I Restoration and Construction, Lt. Numerous local suppliers donated the labor, materials, and equipment required to return the memorial to its original beauty.
The Monument. Johnson's design is a "cenotaph," or open tomb, that symbolizes the freedom of Kennedy's spirit. The memorial is a square, roofless room, 30 feet high and 50 by 50 feet wide with two narrow openings facing north and south. The walls consist of 72 white precast concrete columns, most of which seem to float with no visible support two feet above the early. Eight columns extend to the ground, acting as legs that seem to hold up the monument. Each column ends in a light fixture. At night, the lights create the illusion that the structure is supported by the light itself. The corners and "doors" of this roofless room are decorated with rows of concrete circles, or medallions, each identical and perfectly aligned. These decorations introduce the circular shape into the square architecture of the Kennedy Memorial.
Visitors enter the room after a short walk up a slight concrete incline, embossed with concrete squares. Inside visitors confront a low-hewn granite square, too empty to be a base, too short to be a table, but too square to be a tomb, in which the name John Fitzgerald Kennedy is carved. The letters have been painted gold to capture the light from the white floating column walls and the pale concrete floor. These words - three words of a famous name - are the only verbal messages in the empty room.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaze contains a permanent historical exhibition about President Kennedy, with a focus on the impact of his death on the nation and the world. The subject is illustrated through the use of nearly 400 photographs, 45 minutes of documentary films, artifacts, graphs, charts, and other related interpretive materials. Two evidentiary areas associated with the alleged assassin are preserved, most notably the alleged sniper's perch at the sixth floor window. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.