The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
Why We Chose This Museum
Today’s Museum of the Day is a lesson in history: 151 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican President, signed the Emancipation Proclamation which officially freed the slaves. Thus, our Museum of the Day recognizes the great work of historians at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in the capital city Springfield of my native Illinois. We will also embark on a short lesson about Presidential Libraries and their relationship to the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA).
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation supports the educational and cultural programming of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; fosters Lincoln scholarship through the acquisition and publication of documentary materials relating to Lincoln and his era; and promotes a greater appreciation of history through exhibits, conferences, publications, online services, and other activities designed to promote historical literacy.
What to expect
A Sneak Peek
Your journey begins in front of a full-scale representation of Lincoln’s boyhood home, a log cabin. Enter and discover a teenaged Lincoln reading borrowed books by firelight. Continue your voyage by viewing his life while in Springfield, Illinois, including his courtship with Mary Todd, his home life, his legal and political careers, his law practice, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Finally, end this first journey with the presidential campaign of 1860 by watching multiple video monitors spin out a TV news program analyzing the campaign in which Lincoln won the presidency. The Presidential Years: Enter a full-scale reproduction of the White House into the “Blue Room” where you will find Mary Lincoln being fitted for a gown by Elizabeth Keckley, her dressmaker. Continue your journey through Lincoln’s life while he dealt with the personal tragedy of the death of his son Willie and the effect on his wife Mary, the human tragedy and sacrifice of the war, the emancipation controversy, the Gettysburg dedication ceremony, and the conclusion of the Civil War. Finally, end this journey with the night of April 14, 1865, and its aftermath. Pass through a re-creation of Ford’s Theater, where John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln, on your way to a nearly full scale re-creation of the Representatives Hall in Springfield’s Old State Capitol where you, too, can pay your last respects as you file past the closed casket of Abraham Lincoln. As you exit the exhibit, learn how his death triggered a vast emotional response in a country whose people suddenly wanted to “get close” to Lincoln and to “hold on” to the security and leadership he represented. See some of these objects they collected and read their stories.
The Treasures Gallery
Presented By The Louise and Barry Taper Family Foundation
The Treasures Gallery allows visitors to view dozens of items that were part of the Lincoln’s lives. These artifacts form part of an in-depth display that helps put you in touch with the personal lives of the Lincolns. In the center of the gallery is a large cylindrical wall – the inner sanctum – which houses some of the greatest Lincoln artifacts.
Technology & Tours
Under His Hat: Discovering Lincoln’s Story from Primary Sources is the home of the Lincoln Collection Digitization Project, a thematic online-education resource about the United States’ 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Under His Hat uses primary source materials from the more than 52,000 Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln-era artifacts and documents known as the Lincoln Collection. These primary source materials are presented in thematic groupings to bring Lincoln’s history to life for a global audience. To accommodate classroom use at various grade levels, Under His Hat includes activities in the resource guide that can be adjusted to correlate with objectives found in the National Common Core Standards. Resources include hands-on activities, vocabulary, research topics, critical thinking questions, and references to additional resources.
For adult groups wishing to tour the ALPM, the Springfield Convention and Visitors’ Bureau is accepting requests at this time. Please go on-line and access the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau website at http://www.visit-springfieldillinois.com. Click on group tours, and then click on make reservations online. Bookings must be confirmed with the Springfield Convention and Visitors’ Bureau 30 days in advance with payment due to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum 15 days prior to the tour date. All sales are final. No refunds; no exchanges.
After it opened in April 2005, 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.However, museum traditionalists have disapproved of this departure from a static display of glass-encased artifacts. Traditionalists such as Southern Illinois University historian John Y. Simon 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 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 (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 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.
No charge for members. Adults $12; Seniors (62+) $9; Military (ID required) $7; Children (5-15) $6; 4 and under, no charge; Student (ID required) $9. The Museum is equipped to accommodate the needs of guests with disabilities and to assist with special needs. Wheelchairs: Guests with wheelchairs may be dropped off at the Museum’s Main Entrance at Sixth and Jefferson. A limited supply of Museum wheelchairs is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Motorized wheelchairs are permitted. Listening devices: Assisted listening devices are available in the theaters. Strollers: Strollers must fit within Museum guidelines. Umbrella strollers are recommended. Foreign language guides: Scripts of the theater presentations “Lincoln’s Eyes” and “Ghosts of the Library” are available in French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. Cards showing the layout of the museum are available in Chinese, French, German, and Spanish.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation was incorporated in 2000 to assist with private sector fundraising initiatives during the planning, construction and implementation phases related to the establishment of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Since that time, the Foundation continues to support the Library and Museum through fundraising and support for humanities programming in our combined mission of promoting historical literacy.
The Presidential Libraries Act, enacted in 1955 by President Eisenhower, sought to ensure the “preservation and administration…of papers and other historical materials of any President or former President of the United States,” through cooperation with the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA), a federal agency. Originally conceived of by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, every administration from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush has taken advantage of this legislation and there are now 13 Presidential Libraries and Museum’s in the National Archives system. No president prior to Hoover has a Library and Museum that is run by NARA. Others exist, including a George Washington Museum, John Quincy Adams Museum, and of course the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Though all are Presidential Libraries and/or Museums, only the 20th-century Presidents get the NARA designation. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a historic site of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and as such is partially supported through by the State of Illinois.