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

Apr 07, 2005, 01:00 ET from Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill., April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 exhibits -- double the size of any
 existing presidential museum -- the 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 Springfield.
     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 alike -- and raise the national profile of both Springfield and
     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 can show."
     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 Holavision(R) 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
     -- 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
     For more information, visit .
     CONTACT: Christine Glunz of Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and
 Museum, 217-558-8947, ; or Lauren Chilcote of
 Edelman, 312-297-7432,

SOURCE Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum