Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992 Page: 14
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The sixth floor of the old Texas School Book Depository as it appeared in 1977 when purchased by Dallas County. The Depository company moved out of the building
in 1970, leaving the future of the 1901 warehouse in doubt.
conspiracy varied among the official inquiries.)
At the same time wary official commentators
expressed fears that the display
would wander into the realm of speculation
and theory, thus becoming a platform for
the accusations put forth by the critics.
Moralists cried out against morbid displays
of gruesome evidence associated with the
crime, while pundits stated that the sixth
floor was an inappropriate location for a
memorial. "A memorial to whom?," asked
the planners. Some journalists predicted it
would be a shrine to Kennedy, others to Lee
Harvey Oswald, his alleged assassin. Some
weary Dallasites voiced concern that the
educational project might become another
blot on the reputation of a scarred community.
Finally, there were rumors that the
exhibition, despite a promising public-private
civic partnership, would somehow
commercialize a tragedy.
The new foundation board, again led by
Lindalyn Adams, gamely pressed ahead with
plans to provide an educational experience
for visitors to Dallas. Since 1963
tourists had migrated to Dealey Plaza where
they were, to paraphrase one local reporter,
"ignored by everyone." Information about
the assassination available in the Plaza
was limited to one bronze tablet showing
the motorcade route. Tourist maps of the
city traditionally avoided references to
Dealey Plaza. In 1978, the city's convention
and visitors bureau did not keep any
statistics on visitor interest in the site.
Planning and initial fundraising took
several years. In 1987, at the suggestion of
Dallas County Judge Lee Jackson, the
Commissioners Court voted to advance
funds to build the visitor center and install
mechanical systems in the sixth floor space.
Revenues from admissions would be earmarked
to repay the county investment at
the site and to offset ongoing operations.
Former Dallas County Judge David G. Fox
came forward to head up the foundation's
private development campaign to fund
construction of the exhibition itself. Contributions
came in from local foundations,
corporations, and individuals. The Texas
Foundation for the Humanities provided
the largest non-local grant.
Nationally recognized specialists in architecture,
museum interpretation, history,
exhibit design, documentary films, security,
and historic preservation were brought
in to work with county professionals in the
actual creation of the exhibition and access.
An outside group of advisors was
brought in from both sides of the assassination
debate, diverse technical specializations
and the academic fields of history,
psychology, sociology, urban studies, and
political science. The goal: to provide an
objective, educational exhibition spanning
30 years of social history, while at the same
time preserving and partially restoring an
infamous historic space.
From the standpoint of content, the
planners elected to present the material
within the context of historiography. His
14 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992, periodical, Summer 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45419/m1/14/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.