For Immediate Release:
April 1, 2005
New Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum Marries Traditional
Scholarship With 21st Century Showmanship
Interactive, state-of-the art technology brings Lincoln and
his legacy brilliantly to life
SPRINGFIELD, IL., - On April 19, 2005, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich
will officially open the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, which
reinvents the concept of the presidential museum with state-of-the-art,
immersive exhibits that create history that feels like real life.
With 40,000 square feet of permanent exhibitsódouble the size of any
existing presidential museumóthe museum offers a fitting tribute to
the man most consider to be America's greatest president. The museum
joins the already-open Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library as part
of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum complex in
The governor invites the public to celebrate the museum's arrival
by attending a series of opening events beginning April 16 and culminating
in a public dedication ceremony on Tuesday, April 19 at 11 a.m., which
will be led by the governor and attended by other prominent state
and national leaders.
"This world-class institution will help us all learn about and appreciate
Illinois' most famous son and our shared national history," said Blagojevich.
"The new museum will inform, engage, and inspire the state's residents
and visitors alikeóand raise the national profile of both Springfield
To ensure that Lincoln's life and teachings remain a part of our lives,
the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) teamed with design
firm BRC Imagination Arts and a distinguished panel of renowned historians
to develop the new 100,000-square-foot museum. Employing 21st-century
technology to make the 19th century live again, the museum design
combines scholarship with showmanship that will both inform and astound.
THE NEW MUSEUM EXPERIENCE
Visitors to the museum complex will enter the museum's two state-of-the-art
"exhibit journeys" off a 4,700-square-foot central plaza. Each journey
makes a different time and aspect of Lincoln's life come alive ‚ from
his modest beginnings to his assassination and funeral ‚ deepening
our appreciation and understanding for the man Henry Cabot Lodge called
one of the "best great men and the greatest good men whom history
Journey One portrays Lincoln's childhood up to his election as 16th
president. It re-creates his boyhood home as well as a harrowing New
Orleans slave auction, his Springfield law office, the fiery Lincoln-Douglas
debates and his departure for Washington in February, 1861.
Journey Two begins in a towering reproduction of the White House as
Lincoln would have known it. It includes scenes depicting Lincoln
and First Lady Mary Todd at the deathbed of their son, Willie; Lincoln
in the War Department Telegraph Office as he receives the daily casualty
counts of the Civil War; the White House Kitchen where black servants
are gossiping about the possibility of emancipation; the presidential
box at Ford's Theater; and, finally, a 95 percent scale reproduction
of the House Chamber in the Old State Capitol where Lincoln's ornately
draped casket lay in state before his interment in Springfield.
This is more than you-are-there-history ‚ experiences include:
- Ghosts of the Library ‚ This spectacular HolavisionÆ
show weaves an enchanting tale about the mystery and discovery
awaiting the scholar in a great historical archive such as the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. During the presentation,
high-tech special effects create misty, ghost-like visions of
historical figures that share the stage with a live actor as viewers
become part of a detective's journey into the past.
- Campaign 1860 ‚ This contemporary portrayal
of the presidential race of 1860 features 30-second campaign commercials
promoting each of that year's four candidates.
- The Whispering Gallery ‚ Negative campaigning
is nothing new! This is a twisted, unsettling hallway where visitors
hear brutally unkind things said about Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln during
their early months in Washington. Cruel caricatures and harsh
political cartoons attacking the presidential couple cover the
walls of the gallery.
- The Emancipation Proclamation ‚ A special effects
"illusion corridor," this exhibit features a gauntlet of dream-like
images of people telling Lincoln what he should do. The compilation
of varying, sometimes racist, opinions reminds visitors that Lincoln
was leading a deeply divided nation. It also showcases the extraordinary
courage it took to issue the Proclamation.
- Treasures Gallery ‚ A soaring exhibit space
that showcases many actual items that were a part of Lincoln's
life; the gallery offers visitors close-up views of Lincoln's
original handwritten Gettysburg Address, a signed copy of the
Emancipation Proclamation, and personal effects such as Lincoln's
shaving mirror, Mary Todd's music box and a recently donated presidential
"briefcase," among other treasures.
- Lincoln's Eyes ‚In this dazzling special-effects
theater presentation, an artist commissioned to create a portrait
of Lincoln struggles to understand all the things he sees in Lincoln's
eyes ‚ sorrow, resolve, hope, vision, forgiveness and more. The
presentation wraps around the audience with special effects and
multiple layered screens of digital projection.
- Ask Mr. Lincoln ‚ This unique interactive theater
is a chance to ask our 16th president a question and receive the
answer in his own words.
In addition to these permanent exhibits, 3,000 square feet of temporary
exhibit space will feature Smithsonian-caliber changing exhibits on
topics as diverse as America's First Ladies, Chicago's gangster era,
the architectural genius of Frank Lloyd Wright and other topics illustrating
the rich history of Illinois and America. The first temporary exhibit,
"Blood on the Moon," commemorates the 140th anniversary of Lincoln's
assassination. "Blood on the Moon" will be at the museum April 19
through October 16 and will feature Lincoln artifacts such as the
bed he died in, which is on loan from the Chicago Historical Society;
the carriage in which Abraham and Mary Lincoln rode to Ford's Theater,
courtesy of the Studebaker National Museum; pieces of Lincoln's jacket,
blood-stained shirt and gloves, Mary's dress and a fan from Ford's
Theater, courtesy of Louise and Barry Taper; plus dozens of other
historic artifacts, documents and images.
Elsewhere in the museum visitors will find a children's area called
"Mrs. Lincoln's Attic," a restaurant, museum store and administrative
offices. Both the library and museum have space available to rent
for public or private events.
For more information, visit alplm.org.