Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Overview
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum documents the life of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, and the course of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Combining traditional scholarship with 21st century showmanship techniques, the popular museum continues to rank as one of the most visited libraries. It is located in Springfield, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

 and is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is a governmental agency of the U.S. state of Illinois. It is tasked with the duty of maintaining most State-owned historic sites within Illinois, and maximizing their educational and recreational value to visitors....

, a governmental agency of the state government of Illinois. It is not affiliated with the U.S.
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Encyclopedia
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum documents the life of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, and the course of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Combining traditional scholarship with 21st century showmanship techniques, the popular museum continues to rank as one of the most visited libraries. It is located in Springfield, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

 and is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is a governmental agency of the U.S. state of Illinois. It is tasked with the duty of maintaining most State-owned historic sites within Illinois, and maximizing their educational and recreational value to visitors....

, a governmental agency of the state government of Illinois. It is not affiliated with the U.S. National Archives and its system of Presidential Libraries
Presidential library
In the United States, the Presidential library system is a nationwide network of 13 libraries administered by the Office of Presidential Libraries, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration...

.

Awards


The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum has been recognized with two awards: a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Themed Entertainment Association
Themed Entertainment Association
The Themed Entertainment Association is an international non-profit association that represents creators, developers, designers and producers of themed entertainment...

, and an award from The Lincoln Group of New York, for "being the greatest achievement in America to encourage the study and appreciation of Abraham Lincoln and the times in which he lived."

Museum exhibits





The museum contains life-size dioramas of Lincoln's boyhood home, areas of the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, the presidential box at Ford's Theater, and the settings of key events in Lincoln's life, as well as pictures, artifacts and other memorabilia. Original artifacts are changed from time to time, but the collection usually includes items like the original hand written Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most well-known speeches in United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery...

, a signed Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War using his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with nearly...

, his glasses and shaving mirror, Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Ann Lincoln was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.-Life before the White House:...

's music box, items from her White House china, her wedding dress, and more.

One of the museum's permanent exhibits, Campaign of 1860, features late "Meet the Press
Meet the Press
Meet the Press is a weekly American television news/interview program produced by NBC. It is the longest-running television series in American broadcasting history, despite bearing little resemblance to the original format of the program seen in its television debut on November 6, 1947. It has been...

" anchor Tim Russert
Tim Russert
Timothy John "Tim" Russert was an American television journalist and lawyer who appeared for more than 16 years as the longest-serving moderator of NBC's Meet the Press. He was a senior vice president at NBC News, Washington bureau chief and also hosted the eponymous CNBC/MSNBC weekend interview...

. In addition to its exhibits, the Lincoln Museum runs two special effects theater shows, Lincoln's Eyes and Ghosts of the Library. Both shows run several times an hour.

Burbank, California based BRC Imagination Arts, led by Bob Rogers, was responsible for all of the permanent exhibits and presentations, music, theaters, lifelike figures and full-immersion historical settings.

Debate over exhibit design and education


The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum quickly became one of the most talked about, studied, and debated new projects within the museum design profession. The museum has received great attention from within the field of museum design and historians for its use of modern technology, theatrics, and high-fidelity figures to tell the Lincoln story, generating larger than expected attendance, enthusiastic visitors and a sharp boost to the regional economy, including increased attendance at surrounding historical attractions. But museum traditionalists have disapproved of this departure from a static display of glass-encased artifacts. Traditionalists such as Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University is a state university system based in Carbondale, Illinois, in the Southern Illinois region of the state, with multiple campuses...

 historian John Y. Simon
John Y. Simon
John Younker Simon was an American Civil War scholar known for editing the papers of Ulysses S. Grant. Born in Highland Park, Illinois, he was on the history faculty of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, for 44 years. Simon had MA and PhD history degrees from Harvard University...

 have said the popular approach, borrowing presentation technologies from entertainment, trivializes the subject matter. Simon calls the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum a "Lincolnland."

Other academics applaud the Lincoln Museum's revolutionary approach. John R. Decker in the Journal of American History
Journal of American History
The Journal of American History is the official academic journal of the Organization of American Historians. It covers the field of American history and was established in 1914 as the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, the official journal of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association...

sees benefits in using 21st century communication methods to capture the public's imagination, drawing audiences to educational subjects. He writes:


"Like any other modern collection (the Lincoln Presidential museum) has an audience base that extends far beyond specialists and academics. Rather than merely pandering to the public or dumbing down history, the ALPLM intelligently and compellingly uses visual culture to meet its mission as a public pedagogical institution. The museum addresses complex historical material and opens the historical discourse to a wider audience than would be possible through more conventional means."


The scholarship behind the content and design for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum was a collaboration between international exhibit designers, BRC Imagination Arts, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is a governmental agency of the U.S. state of Illinois. It is tasked with the duty of maintaining most State-owned historic sites within Illinois, and maximizing their educational and recreational value to visitors....

 (IHPA), and a content team assembled by state historian Dr. Thomas H. Schwartz. This content team included the world's leading Lincoln scholars, Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 winning historians, and Illinois school teachers representing the fourth, seventh and eleventh grades. A key goal of this collective was that exhibits promote a greater level of personal interest in Abraham Lincoln. Museum visitors wanting to continue learning about Lincoln are reflected in the record sales of history books in the museum's gift shop. Some books have sold faster than the publisher can reprint. Overall sales in the gift shop hit $1 million within three months of the museum's opening to the public.

Library collection


The Lincoln Presidential Library is a research library which houses books, papers and artifacts related to Lincoln's life and the American Civil War. In addition to the works associated with Lincoln and his era, the museum serves as a premier repository of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and other materials of historical interest pertaining to the history of the State of Illinois. While the library is open to the public, its rare collection is non-circulating.

Architecture



The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is located in Springfield, Illinois in the historic downtown section, near many other Lincoln cultural sites. The presidential library opened on October 14, 2004, and the museum opened on April 19, 2005. Until 1970, Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. was designated as the "Lincoln Museum".

The buildings which now house the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are in three separate structures. Each structure encompasses one city block.

Two of the buildings, the museum and the library, are separated by a street and connected above the street level by an enclosed walkway. The entrance of each building features a rotunda
Rotunda (architecture)
A rotunda is any building with a circular ground plan, sometimes covered by a dome. It can also refer to a round room within a building . The Pantheon in Rome is a famous rotunda. A Band Rotunda is a circular bandstand, usually with a dome...

, reflective of the dome
Dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

 on the Old State Capitol State Historic Site
Old State Capitol State Historic Site
The Old State Capitol State Historic Site, in Springfield, Illinois, is the fifth capitol building built for the U.S. state of Illinois. It was built in the Greek Revival style in 1837-40, and served as the state house in 1840-1876...

 in Springfield, where Lincoln served four terms as a legislator
Legislator
A legislator is a person who writes and passes laws, especially someone who is a member of a legislature. Legislators are usually politicians and are often elected by the people...

. Both structures were designed by the architectural firm HOK
Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum
HOK is a global architecture, interiors, engineering, planning and consulting firm. HOK is the largest U.S.-based architecture-engineering firm and the "No. 1 role model for sustainable and high-performance design." HOK also is the second-largest interior design firm...

.

The third building, the former Springfield Union Station, has been adapted to serve as the museum's visitor center.

Administration


The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is a governmental agency of the U.S. state of Illinois. It is tasked with the duty of maintaining most State-owned historic sites within Illinois, and maximizing their educational and recreational value to visitors....

. Richard Norton Smith
Richard Norton Smith
Richard Norton Smith is an American historian and author specializing in US presidents.-Life:Born in Leominster, Massachusetts, in 1953, Smith graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1975 with a degree in government...

 served as the museum's Founding Executive Director. Dr. Thomas Schwartz served as the museum's Interim Executive Director when Smith departed in March of 2006, and until Rick Beard was appointed in October 2006. However, Beard was fired in October of 2008 after he was charged with shoplifting at Springfield stores; he later pled guilty. Jan Grimes, Director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, served as interim Executive Director until Eileen R. Mackevich, MBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
Pat Quinn (politician)
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Quinn III is the 41st and current Governor of Illinois. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Previously elected three times to statewide office, Quinn was the sitting lieutenant governor and became governor on January 29, 2009, when the previous governor, Rod Blagojevich,...

 on Friday, December 3, 2010. Mackevich, 71, formerly served as the Executive Director of the national Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was the Congressionally created 14-member federal commission focused on planning and commemorating the 200th birthday of the United States' 16th president on February 12, 2009. The commission served for ten years, from 2000 to 2010...

. Mackevich was also active as a broadcast journalist and talk show host on Chicago public radio, and was the co-founder of the Chicago Humanities Festival
Chicago Humanities Festival
The Chicago Humanities Festival is a foundation which organizes an annual series of lectures, concerts, and films in Chicago. The main festival takes place in the first and second weeks of November. The festival was started in 1990 by the Illinois Humanities Council and became an independent...

. She will start the last week of December 2010 and will be paid $150,000 a year, minus 24 mandated furlough days a year because of state budget cuts. Mackevich's objectives are to raise money, make the museum more attractive, and attract more international interest.

Record attendance


Since its opening in April 2005, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum has ranked as America's most visited state-controlled presidential museum. In about six months the museum generated about $1 million. In less than twenty-one months, the museum received its one millionth visitor.

See also

  • Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park
  • Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
    Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
    Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is a United States Presidential Memorial, a National Historic Landmark District in present-day Lincoln City, Indiana. It preserves the farm site where Abraham Lincoln lived with his family from 1816 to 1830. During that time, he grew from a 7-year-old boy to a...

  • Lincoln's New Salem
  • Lincoln Home National Historic Site
    Lincoln Home National Historic Site
    Lincoln Home National Historic Site preserves the Springfield, Illinois home where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1844 to 1861, before becoming the 16th President of the United States...

  • Ford's Theatre National Historic Site
  • Lincoln's Tomb
  • Lincoln Memorial
    Lincoln Memorial
    The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • United States Presidential Memorial
    United States presidential memorial
    The Presidential memorials in the United States honor the various Presidents of the United States and seek to perpetuate their legacies.-Living and physical elements:...

  • Abraham Lincoln Association
    Abraham Lincoln Association
    The Abraham Lincoln Association is an American association that observes each anniversary of the birth of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, preserves and makes more accessible the landmarks associated with his life, and actively encourages, promotes, and aids the collection and dissemination of...


External links