EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE:
January 06, 2000
Contact: Bob Porter: (214) 747-6660, Ext. 6607
Toll-Free 888-485-4854
Director of Communications
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Zapruder family donates collection, film copyright to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

   DALLAS, TX -- The personal collection of the Zapruder family, which includes a first generation copy of the historically significant Abraham Zapruder amateur home movie that recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, has been donated to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The donation, made by the heirs to the Abraham Zapruder estate, also includes the copyright to the film.

   The Zapruder family collection consists of a number of materials associated with the film -- slides, photographs, videos, and other items covering the images on the film -- that have been collected by the family over the years. While the U. S. Government purchased the original Zapruder film in 1999, the Zapruder family has owned the copyright since 1975.   It will now be owned and administered by the Museum and its legal representation.

   A statement released by the Zapruder family said, “We have selected The Sixth Floor Museum for this gift because we are confident that those responsible for its administration share our values and will continue to administer the film in the spirit of our father and grandfather, Abraham Zapruder.

   The statement continues, “Since November 22nd, 1963, our guiding principle has been to strike a balance between respect for the sensitive nature of the film's images and an appropriate response to the public's demand for access to the film. All decisions through the years have been guided by the balancing of these two overriding interests.  We are very pleased to turn over our responsibility to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza."

   The private, non-profit Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza already owns and manages licenses for over 250 hours of original tape, film and radio news coverage and visual images relating to the assassination weekend and the Kennedy presidency from WFAA-TV/Channel 8 (ABC), KDFW-TV/Channel 4 (then CBS affiliate KRLD-TV, now Fox), KTVT-TV/Channel 11 (now CBS), the Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News, along with home movies and photographs by a number of individuals.  Legal representation for the Zapruder film will continue to be Mr. Jamie Silverberg (202-466-2787).

   "With this gift the Zapruder family entrusts The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza with a stunning responsibility,” said Andrew M. Stern, chairman of the board of directors for the Museum.   “By entrusting their personal collection of artifacts to our Museum they assure that the collection will be maintained in a dignified manner for, and accessible to, future generations.”

   The Museum's executive director, Jeff West, adds,  "The Zapruder Collection is the single, most significant acquisition ever made by The Sixth Floor Museum. Our staff is eager to begin the process of studying both the objects themselves and the possibilities for public interpretation."

   Abraham Zapruder, a dress manufacturer with offices on Dealey Plaza, took his 8mm Bell & Howell camera with him to record President Kennedy's visit to Dallas on November 22, 1963. The complete Dealey Plaza scenes he filmed that day run about 26 seconds. Today the film is recognized as the most important assassination record and the only known complete visual record of President Kennedy’s assassination.

   Following the assassination, LIFE magazine acquired all reproduction rights, the original film and a copy of the film (the two remaining copies went to the Secret Service).  Zapruder agreed to assign those rights to the magazine expressing concern that the film would not be exploited.  In 1975 LIFE magazine returned those rights to the family.

   In December of 1963, Zapruder gave his camera to Bell and Howell, which donated it to the U.S. government three years later. The camera is currently on loan to The Sixth Floor Museum from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and is on display with a collection of cameras that were in use in Dealey Plaza that day.

   The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza examines the historical legacy of President John F. Kennedy and the events surrounding his assassination. Located in the former Texas School book Depository building, the Museum chronicles Kennedy's life, times, death and legacy, preserves the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and nearby Kennedy Memorial; and provides audiences with the tools to navigate contemporary culture within the context of presidential history.

   More than two million visitors come to the presidential site and historic district each year -- with nearly half a million touring Museum exhibits annually. Through publications, public programs, its Public Research Center and Web site (www.jfk.org) the Museum educates countless others.

   Museum collections include more than 18,000 items related to President Kennedy, his assassination and the events that followed. The collection represent the largest single source of as-it-happened news footage, eyewitness films and photographs related to the assassination outside the major broadcast networks and National Archives.

   The Museum's Oral History Program includes more that 175 videotaped interviews about the president, the events surrounding his assassination (a number of them referencing the Zapruder film), and the political and social climate in Dallas in the 1950s and 1960s. Materials in the museum's archives and Public Research Center are available for study by scholars, historians, students and others.

   For further information please contact Bob Porter, Director of Communications, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (bobp@jfk.org).   For information regarding rights and reproduction of the Zapruder Film, please contact Mr. Jamie Silverberg, (202-466-2787).

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STATEMENTS for PRESS CONFERENCE
Wednesday, January 26, 2000

   Good morning. My name is Andy Stern and I am chairman of the board of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

   As most of you know, the Museum opened in this building, the former Texas School Book Depository, eleven years ago next month.More than four million visitors have toured the Museum and many times that number has visited the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark Site.

   The mission of the Sixth Floor Museum is to chronicle the assassination and legacy of John F. Kennedy, preserve the Landmark Site and the Kennedy Memorial, and provide audiences with the tools to navigate contemporary culture within the context of presidential history.ealey Plaza numbers more than 18,000 items, including significant collections from the Dallas Times Herald, WFAA-TV, KTVT-TV and KDFW-TV, as well as photographic materials from many other sources. The Museum also houses objects on loan from prestigious collections across the nation, including the National Archives.

   This morning, I am pleased to announce the most important—the most generous gift The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza has ever received—The Zapruder Collection.

   The Zapruder family has asked me to read the following statement:

   "We have selected The Sixth Floor Museum for this gift because we are confident that those responsible for its administration share our values and will continue to administer the film in the spirit of our father and grandfather, Abraham Zapruder.

   Since November 22nd, 1963, our guiding principle has been to strike a balance between respect for the   sensitive   nature of the film's images and an appropriate response to the public's demand for access to the film. All decisions through the years have been guided by the balancing of these two overriding interests.

   We are very pleased to turn over our responsibility to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza."

   Abraham Zapruder, using a Bell and Howell home movie camera, filmed what is arguably the most important film in our country’s history.  Mr. Zapruder, who officed across the street in the 501 Elm building, carried his movie camera down to the grassy knoll that fateful day in November 1963 and captured on film the event that changed a nation, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

   Let’s take just a moment and listen to Mr. Zapruder’s comments on that day—just an hour and a half after the shooting:

(A brief video excerpt of interview with Abraham Zapruder.)

   The Abraham Zapruder family has donated to the Museum the family’s personal collection of artifacts related to the assassination of President Kennedy. 

   The cornerstone of this 1900-item collection is a first-day, first-generation copy print of Abraham Zapruder’s historic 8mm color film.  Let me clarify that Mr. Zapruder made three copies of the original film.  The original film and two of those copies reside in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.  The third copy, and the only copy remaining in private hands, is now owned by The Sixth Floor Museum.  In addition, the Zapruder family has transferred the copyright of their father’s film to The Sixth Floor Museum.

   It is with deep gratitude that I offer thanks to the Zapruder family on behalf of the Museum.  This family has lived in the public eye for many years as the result of their father and grandfather being in the right place at the right time to preserve for future generations the stunning tragedy that was the assassination of a president. 

   The Zapruders had many options in selecting a proper repository for their impressive collection.  We are pleased that they recognized the capabilities and credibility of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.  There were other museums, larger museums, and enumerable private collectors who would have liked to receive the Zapruder Collection.  Yet the artifacts return to Dallas.  I am proud to say that Dallas is again home to these important objects, which had their genesis right out there, on that lawn, so long ago.

   With this gift the Zapruder family entrusts The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza with a great responsibility.  By donating their personal collection of artifacts to an institution whose mission is to protect and interpret them in meaningful ways, they are allowing countless others to study and learn about this event.  By entrusting them to our Museum they assure that the collection will be maintained for, and accessible to, future generations.

   Accepting the Zapruder Collection is an awesome responsibility.  The Museum is charged with preserving the integrity of the historic objects under our care.  As we do on a daily basis with all pieces under our care, the Museum will provide public access to the Zapruder collection and license film usage while doing our best to assure that the events it depicts are treated with a dignity that avoids exploitation.

   Again, I accept this gift with heartfelt thanks and confidence that our institution is the right place for this historic film.

   Now it is my pleasure to introduce to you the executive director of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Mr. Jeff West.

Jeff:

   Thank you, Andy.  Let me add my thanks to the Zapruder family, as well.  I applaud their diligence in seeking out an institution that can handle their Collection and the responsibility that comes with it.  I assure you that The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza can handle it.

   Our Museum is young and strong, and growing stronger each year.  We have the ability to move forward with the Zapruder Collection in exciting new ways, to reach broad audiences yet still preserve the integrity of the content.

   The task before us is enormous—but enormously exciting.  I rely on the leadership of our board of directors and the expertise of a highly trained staff of Museum professionals to join me in the challenge of mining these important new resources for the public good.   Our Museum staff is made up of talented individuals who are capable of capturing the potential of the Zapruder Collection and creating from it meaningful opportunities for education and reflection.  As of today, we are going to work.

   The possibilities are vast.  Among the items in the The Zapruder Collection are:

  • The only privately held first day, first-generation print of the Zapruder film.
  • Numerous film copies—in a variety of formats including 8mm, 16 mm, and 35 mm.  Some in full color and some in black and white.  These copy prints and negatives of the Zapruder film were apparently utilized by Time-Life for publication layout and internally for reference.
  • Two complete sets of 4x5 color transparencies--these are LIFE 1st generation copies of each frame of the original film as they existed in 1963/1964, before any fading and damage appeared.
  • 8x10 glossy color prints of Zapruder film frames—these are LIFE prints of each frame.  Again, they show each frame as they existed in 1963/1964, before any fading and damage appeared.
  • Original digital computer transfer of Zapruder film and a variety of other historical documents and videotapes.

   The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza the copyright to the Zapruder film.  This means that any entity interested in airing or reproducing the film in any way must go through The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and our legal representatives.  Essentially, this establishes us as the official gatekeepers.  The Museum will serve as steward of this remarkable national treasure, ensuring that it is adequately protected and, as Andy said, “treated with a dignity that avoids exploitation.”

   Thank you for being with us this morning.  I will be happy to take questions at this time.  If you prefer to speak with Mr. Stern or myself individually, we will be happy to accommodate you.  Also, we’re prepared to escort you through the museum and through the collections to see some of the Zapruder artifacts.

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Zapruder Family Statement

   “We have selected The Sixth Floor Museum for this gift because we are confident that those responsible for its administration share our values and will continue to administer the film in the spirit of our father and grandfather, Abraham Zapruder.


   Since November 22nd, 1963, our guiding principle has been to strike a balance between respect for the   sensitive   nature of the film's images and an appropriate response to the public's demand for access to the film. All decisions through the years have been guided by the balancing of these two overriding interests. 

   We are very pleased to turn over our responsibility to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza."

 

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