This is the twelfth post about our family's visit to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. I suggest that you read the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh posts before this one. Because I blog about educational travel, some of the places mentioned below gave me free admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits. Other locations we toured are free for everyone. We paid full price for the rest. None of that has any bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I recommend without hesitation. If there are gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, hotel, or restaurant enough to recommend it, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.
Steve lived and worked in a Dallas suburb for a year before we met, so he had a larger-than-usual role in planning what we would see and do during our short time in town. We drove by his old apartment and the office where he worked, as well as two other locations I'll share later.
We started Saturday 4/15 at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. The museum has three main parts: the Holocaust Wing, the Human Rights Wing, and a section called Pivot to America.
We started with the Holocaust Wing. This section guides you geographically and chronologically across Europe from 1933 to 1945. The large map on the floor at the bottom of this photo shows Germany's invasions into other countries.
There is a lot of material to absorb, all of it horrifying.
The Holocaust Wing is informative, powerful, and so important. It's a lot to take in, but definitely go.
After touring the Holocaust Wing, go to the Dimensions in Testimony Theater. It's totally unlike anything I've ever experienced. To summarize, you sit in a small theater and talk via voice recognition technology with a projection of a Holocaust survivor. It is incredible.
When we entered, we were given a briefing on author and Holocaust survivor, Aaron Elster (affiliate link). As a child, Aaron spent nearly two years hiding from the Nazis in an attic in Poland. He was one of the most eloquent and active Holocaust survivors, giving countless interviews about his family's experience and his survival.
Aaron (you're on a first-name basis with the survivor) recorded hundreds of hours of interviews before his death in 2018 at the age of 85. This is how he appeared before us.
We were able to ask any questions we wanted. For example, I asked Aaron about his education. The technology recognized the words in my question and Aaron answered immediately, speaking and moving as if he were sitting there live in front of us. The info sheet we were given has sample questions, but I had plenty of other questions I wanted to ask. The whole thing was incredible.
You can read all of the survivor bios and see a schedule of when each will appear in the theater. If I were local, I'd get a season pass and come see them all. The woman who was running our experience said that she hears different things every time, despite doing multiple showings a day of the same person. So cool.
After the Dimensions in Testimony Theater, we went to the Human Rights Wing. It looks at the International Military Tribunal and the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights following the Holocaust.
The Ten Stages of Genocide Gallery is incredibly powerful. In it, you learn about the ten stages of genocide and see examples from around the world.
It's heartbreaking. How have we as humans not learned?
Next, the Pivot to America Wing. Here, there are films, kiosks, and other displays about the ideals of our nation and how all of us play a part in creating the best possible United States.
The last thing we saw at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum was the current special exhibit, Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement.
Needless to say, this museum was emotionally draining, but incredibly important. Saying I enjoyed it would be wrong, but I will say that the museum is very well done, it taught me a lot, and I'm glad to have visited.
Unfortunately, our next destination, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, did nothing to lighten the mood. That's the location from which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. (Who planned these two museums back-to-back?! Oh yeah, that was me.)
The museum, located in the old Texas School Book Depository building, begins with an overview of JFK and his political rise. It also covers the political climate, particularly in Dallas, during Kennedy's presidency.
There were concerns about Kennedy coming to Dallas. As it turns out, most people were excited to welcome the president. But it only takes one for tragedy. (I'm firmly in the "one" camp, though I was pleased to see that the museum does address the many MANY conspiracy theories that are out there.)
Here's the view out the (not very clean) window of Dealey Plaza. If you look really carefully, you can see an X on the road near the center of the photo. There are two other X's, representing the two other bullets, that are blocked by the tree. (Less foliage in November, and a shorter tree in 1963, in case you were starting to think conspiratorial thoughts.)
This model is helpful. There are white strings representing the bullets' paths down to where the X's are now painted.
There is a lot of interesting information at the Sixth Floor Museum, but it was really crowded when we were there.
We made our way down to Dealey Plaza to get a street-level view. There are two X's.
Here, I'm standing next to the X's (ON THE SIDEWALK), looking back up at the 6th floor, currently blocked by that tree.
I'm pointing out that all X-photos the deRosiers took were from the sidewalk or from inside the building. In the short time we were there, I saw people darting out between traffic to stand on the X to get a photo. Smiling. (?!?!) I saw a car stop in traffic and the driver open the door to photograph the X. It doesn't look like a busy street since I waited patiently to get my photos, but trust me - there were plenty of cars, traveling around that blind curve, at speeds that might not allow them to stop in time for someone stupid enough to pose in the middle of the street.
We spent a bit of time poking around Dealey Plaza while waiting for our trolley tour to begin. The trolley you see was doing the JFK Tour. We were on the City of Dallas Tour.
Our narrated tour took about 90 minutes and gave us a good overview of Dallas.
We spent the evening walking (driving, actually) down Memory Lane as Steve pointed out places from his daily life 20+ years ago. Tomorrow I'll tell you about two of those, plus what we did on our last day of the trip.