Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Mueum (Illinois, USA)
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum 212 N. Sixth Street, Springfield, IL 62701 Springfield is the home of this one of the USA's most famous presidents and everywhere in the city reminds you that he lived here. This museum is huge and very modern and is dedicated entirely to Lincoln and his life's achievements. ... The library is a separate building across the street and is a research library not a book lending library.
PRICES AND TIMES OF OPENING
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM DAILY
The Museum's admission fee is:
Senior (62 and up) $9.00
Children (5 - 15) $6.00
Military (ID required) $7.00
Students (ID required) $9.00
Child (under 5) No Charge
Members No Charge
Public and Research Hours: Monday - Friday - 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday, Sunday - Open for Exhibit Viewing Only
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum parking ramp is off 6th Street between Madison and Mason streets. The rate is $.75 cents per 1/2 hour or $1.50 per hour. The RV and bus parking lot is a flat rate of $5.00.
We had our car parked back at the hotel but the city seemed amazingly empty to us so you may find on street parking if you are prepared to walk a little way.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
As you enter the museum you are security checked and any large bags and coats can be left in a cloakroom. My handbag was checked and our bottles of water and cameras were okay.
You can take photos in the Plaza area and Mrs. Lincoln Attic but not in the theaters, galleries or exhibits.
You are not allowed to take in any food, drinks, sweets or gum and the Museum is smoke-free. The museum is monitored by video surveillance. You are not allowed to touch the exhibits.
Once in you arrive in this huge room that looks like the outside of the Whitehouse with Lincoln and his wife and sons in the centre. He looks really small but when we stood beside the models we discovered they were life size and he was actually really tall. He was taller than my husband who is 6' 3". His wife was pretty short though and I felt okay beside her. You were allowed to pose beside this famous family and take photos in most places in the museum. We were busy taking photos when one of the security guides came over and told us that a film was just about to start in one of the theatres so we rushed in and sat down to watch.
THE UNION THEATRE
This presentation was amazing. It was called 'Through Lincoln's Eyes' and it began with a n actor telling us to look at Lincoln's eyes and one side of his face when split in half, look like he was happy and the other looked sad and yet it was the same face - made me wonder what my face would look like split in half vertically. The actor who was the artist painting Lincoln's portrait then went on to tell us how he struggled to understand all the things he saw in Lincoln's eyes: sorrow, resolve, hope, vision, forgiveness, and so on.
The presentation then moved on to telling the story of Lincoln's life and what etched these things into his facial expression. The story focuses on the personal and political dramas and key issues of Lincoln's presidency, especially slavery and the Civil War.
This sets the scene and introduces you to the character who is President Lincoln. We learned that he had immense courage to do what he felt was right, even though it led to the Civil War. He stood firm in his vision to do what he felt was right which cannot have been easy.
This is a pretty impressive show using a combination of real actors and different digital projection screens as well as other pretty good special effects. We came out really very impressed with the show and much more knowledgeable about Lincoln and his life.
We didn't realize that this was a huge exhinition of Lincoln until he was elected. We thought it was just a re creation of his childhood home which was a small log cabin. You enter through this log cabin and then follow through a pretty comprehensive display with lots of information until you finally come out in to the central Plaza again.
In the cabin we learn that Lincoln was self taught and was an avid reader and he read by candlelight in the tiny cabin that housed his family of Dad, step mum and five other siblings in one pretty small room.
We move on to discover that Lincoln earned his first wages as a ferryman crossing the Ohio River. The next display shows a slave auction which Lincoln must have seen at some stage and obviously had a huge impact on him helping to inspire his beliefs that all men should be free man and his efforts to abolish slavery in the USA.
We progressed through to see Lincoln courting, him becoming a lawyer, the fact that he couldn't control his children and allowed them to create havoc in his law office which made me smile.
We end up with the election that makes him President and the family moving to Washington.
The displays are all life size models with pictures and information to support the displays. I found it interesting and informative enough without overkill and child friendly too.
The show we saw was called 'Ghost of the Library' which was told by an actor who was looking after the library. The show uses holograms and as objects appear the actor tells you a little about how that fits in the story of Lincoln and his years as President. It was again, very well done and informative as wll as being high tech and almost like magic with the holograms.
MRS LINCOLN'S ATTIC
We didn't really spend a lot of time in here as we had no children with us but the teacher in me felt I had to take a look. This area is specifically aimed at children with lots of hands on activities and exhibits. Children cannot be left in here as they must be accompanied by an adult. There is a lot to see and do in a fairly small space and children can try on clothes such as Lincoln's suit ,his wife's dress or maybe a Civil War Soldier. They can try using a buzz-saw or play with an old style doll house. There was also one of those things you can stand behind and stick your head through a hole to pose for a picture like they have at seasides, this one was of Lincoln and his family.
JOURNEY TWO- THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS
This part of the museum is once again entered through the Plaza and passed the Lincoln family. We then noticed another figure near the wall, that of John Wilkes Booth .On the veranda stand General McClellan and General Grant who are eyeing each other with suspicion. As you enter you are met with Mrs Lincoln dressed for Washington and other ballgowns of society ladies in Washington at the time who all have something snide to say about Mrs Lincoln whom they consider rather homely.
Much of this section of the museum is taken up with the Civil War and decisions Lincoln makes with the other men in government at the time. One set is a recreation of Lincoln's office in the White House and his colleagues in the government at the time. There is even a discussion in the White House kitchen about the Lincoln's and the President is palnning.
No wonder Lincoln aged during his time in the White House as not only did he have to take the country through a civil war but he also had his son, Willie which we see takes place while the Lincoln's host a White House party and they sit by his bed in their party clothes.
This scene follows the whispering gallery which is a really quite an unpleasant display of caricatures and comments said about the Lincoln's while they are in office. I had no idea they were so unpopular both in the USA and abroad.
This section takes us through the ups and downs of the Civil War battles and then into Fords Theatre and the Presidential box where Lincoln was shot. Strangely despite his lack of popularity when in the White House, his body was taken all over the USA lying in state and the map shows that this was indeed " the longest, most elaborate funeral in American history."
We are able to walk passed the Lincoln coffin in the re-creation of the Representatives Hall in Springfield's Old State Capitol, at the exact moment in May, 1865 when Lincoln lay in state. This is the most amazingly elaborate funeral scene like a very Victorian-era mourning scene and it is as though we as visitors are actually paying our last respects. It is silent in there and you cannot fail to be moved by the scene even though you know it isn't real.
AND SO MUCHMORE IN THE MUSEUM ALONE
There is an "Ask Mr Lincoln" small interactive exhibition where you can choose a question and then hear the answer from 'Lincoln' himself.
The Gateway map shows all the other cities and places where you can visit to learn more about Mr Lincoln in the USA.
This was actually a Subway but we only wanted a coffee and then I was tempted by a cake too. It was light and airy and a Subway so sold all that Subway usually sell.
We crossed over the road to take a peek at the Presidential Library which is really a big research library but they do have exhibitions in there which the public are invited to view.
The exhibition when we visited was The Boys in Blue which was an exhibition a about and a tribute to Illinois soldiers in the Civil War told through the Library's collection of Civil War photographs, letters, books, newspapers, and artifacts.
We felt we had seen a fair bit and were ready to move on to other Lincoln sites in the city which I shall review at some time in the future.
I would definitely recommend a visit to this very interesting and well put together museum dedicated to President Lincoln's life and of course if you need to do any research into American history then the library is the place across the road. If you are in the Springfield area then this place is a must visit on your list.
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Pig Museum (Stuttgart, Germany)
All art museums are more or less alike. The artifacts may be unique, but there are only so many ways of exhibiting them. Follow me to a museum which is truly unique in all aspects, namely the one and only Pig Museum world-wide. "I like pigs. Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, only pigs treat us as equals." ... (Winston Churchill)
Two years ago private collector Erika Wilhelmer found a home for her collection of pigs and pig related paraphernalia which couldn't be more appropriate: the art deco building formerly used for the administration of the slaughterhouse (German: Schlachthof) in Stuttgart, Schlachthofstraße 2 (Slaughter House Street). If you take the underground U9 from the Central Train Station (~10 minutes), you have to get off at the stop Schlachthof. So the ambience couldn't be better. The visitor is greeted already from afar by enormous pig sculptures standing in front of the entrance. Soon a discarded tram wagon from Basel, Switzerland, will be added. It's piggy pink, has a snout sticking out at the front and a pig's tail painted on its back. It used to be an advertising gag for a bank (an enormous coin is sticking in its roof as if it were a gigantic piggy bank), but then became the darling of the Baslers.
After getting the tickets (4.90 Euro/concession 4 Euro) from a friendly woman who also puts our rucksacks behind a door and promises to keep an eye on them my friend and I explore the ground floor. There are 25 theme rooms altogether, ten on the ground floor and 15 on the first floor. The ground floor is the more serious one so-to-speak, lots of information is waiting to be looked at and read. About 9000 years ago wild hogs were domesticated in Turkey. One room is dedicated to the wild hogs living in our forests today. It looks just like a hiding-place with green and leafy wall paper all around. Exhibits stand on sawn-off tree trunks. Loud grunts come out of a loudspeaker. Then there is an enormous golden pig in the middle of one room, on the walls hang photos with hundreds of black frames of extinct or endangered pig breeds. You also meet the 'German Large White' on a rotating stage, the flagship of the international pig industry so-to-speak. A variety of jobs based on pigs is introduced such as hunter, breeder, butcher, medical researcher, salesman.
Walking on we learn that the pig is the animal best adapted for xenografts, valves from pigs' hearts can be transplanted into humans. 'The Global Pig' gives information about breeding pigs worldwide.
The Chinese have 490 million pigs and with this nearly half of all the pigs of the world.
In Afghanistan there is only one pig.
More pigs than people live in Denmark.
The Spaniards eat more pork than the Germans.
....to quote just some of the many pieces of information. I didn't know I'd be interested in them, but the more I read, the more I was fascinated. I didn't really know what to expect from the Pig Museum. My friend and I went there out of curiosity because we'd read about it in the newspaper. The vast flood of information is so well presented and put into graphs that I found myself reading eagerly all there was on offer. Well, nearly all. After a while my concentration began to dwindle.
So up the staircase to the second floor. (no lift) The walls of the staircase are covered with the word 'pig' in dozens of languages. Btw, the whole museum is bilingual, all explanations are given in German and English. But it's a fact that there are more pig/swine/sow/hog related expressions in German than in English, so not everything can be translated literally. Interestingly, in German the terms are positive as well as negative. 'sow' can be put in front of nouns and adjectives in colloquial speech. In the south of Germany 'sowgood' is an extremely positive adjective, only topped by 'sowsmooth'. I had to learn that when I moved to Stuttgart from the north of Germany. Someone told me that my skirt was sowsmooth and I only stared uncomprehending. 'Sowweather' is negative all over the country. If you want to express your deep felt sympathy with someone's plight, you can address them as, "You poor pig". If someone is lucky, you can say, 'They've got pig' (One theory is that this comes from an old card game in which the ace had the picture of a pig on it). Odd for people from a different linguistic background.
What the visitor finds on the first floor makes the mind boggle. Kitsch in its purest form! If you are a stylistic purist, you should rather stay away. In one room stand several glass containers in which you can find hundreds of pigs of all sizes and materials sorted by colour. In another room pigs are sorted by material. Then the huge collection of piggy-banks from all over the world! There are even show-cases in the corridor, for example one with a pig orchestra made of fine porcelain. Figurines and paintings showing pigs in the rôle of famous art characters (the Mona Lisa!), mythological pigs, Balinese pig masks, pig dolls in traditional ethnic costumes, pig couples in gondolas on the Grand Canal in Venice, pigs as decoration on kitchen utensils, pig families on the beach and, and, and. "There is no such thing which cannot be transformed into the shape of a pig."
Many rooms are geared toward children: the artifacts are hidden or viewable only through tiny windows, some requiring the opening of hatch doors to see. In one room the display cabinets are even completely covered with wooden boards, only small heart-shaped openings allow the visitors to peep in. They're quite high up, probably not to make the display more interesting for children but to prevent them from seeing it at all. It's a small room with dark red walls; on one wall a large painting in fifty shades of pink shows a voluptuous sow in sexy lingerie lolling on a sofa, one of her gigantic buttocks curving towards the onlooker's eye.
"Pigs are very beautiful animals...There is no point of view from which a really corpulent pig is not full of sumptuous and satisfying curves." G.K. Chesterton
Not surprisingly, what we see when playing Peeping Tom is Sow Sex or Pig Porn, take your choice. My friend and I didn't walk together, when we met again, we asked each other, "Have you seen . . . ?" One to two hours are recommended for a visit, but even when you stay in the Pig Museum for two hours you can't see everything. How many exhibits are there at all? I can't answer this because I've found different numbers on the net: 30.000, 37.000 and 42.000. The ticket sales woman even said 46.000. Who cares? In any case every visitor will find enough to amuse themselves.
On the ground floor is also a restaurant. Guess what is on the menu? If you don't want to sit inside, you can go out into the beer garden seating 400 guests. I had a fine piece of cake and a cappuccino. So no worries if you aren't a meatie. In a kiosk you can buy tinned pork and sausages prepared in every conceivable way as a souvenir.
Recommended. Oink. Oink.
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National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium (Mississippi, USA)
National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium 350 East 3rd Street Port of Dubuque Dubuque, Iowa 52001 Our most recent visit to the USA was partly along the Great River Road, top section following the Mississippi to its source. Dubuque is one of the towns along this route. The Great River road was established ... in 1938 as a National Parkway and covers 2300 miles altogether and passes through ten states. The Upper Mississippi river section starting in Minneapolis St Paul in Minnesota and ending in Dubuque Iowa it actually passes through four mid-western states. We did this section backwards and in bits but did see a big section of this scenic drive starting in Dubuque and ending up at the source of the river in Itasca State Park Minnesota.
In Dubuque one of the things on our list that we planned to do was to visit this museum. It is huge and spread over a number of sites. Typically we hadn't a huge amount of time to spend as we had left it rather late getting to Dubuque but we were specifically interested in the Mississippi River exhibits and so ignored the Aquarium which had an exhibition on Amazonian river animals - we were not in the Amazon. We like to see things related to where we are when we travel.
Parking was free and being the USA the spaces were plenty big enough for our big hire car. We headed for the entrance which was not entirely obvious but then I was a bit distracted by the huge paddle wheel on display outside the entrance with colourful frogs leaping around and through it. It had been taken from an old Mississippi paddler wheeler.
HOW MUCH AND OPENING TIMES
Memorial Day weekend thru Labor Day
9:00 am - 6:00 pm Daily
Labor Day thru October 31st
9:00 am - 5:00 pm Daily
November thru Memorial Day Weekend
10:00 am - 5:00 pm Daily
Closed Thanksgiving and
Christmas Day. Closing at 2:00 pm Christmas Eve
Tickets cost : Adults $15.00 Seniors (65+) $13.00 Youth (3-17) $10.00
There are various combine tickets and discounts for groups as well but I won't go into those here. There is also a 3D theatre but that costs extra and we didn't go to see whatever was on there either.
THE MUSEUM EXHIBITS
THE NATIONALRIVERS HALL OF FAME
This was our first section to visit and it was really well done. The exhibits and information boards were well set out with enough information to keep you interested for some time. Many people are in this hall of fame but for us the most obvious was Mark Twain. Not only have they many interesting snippets about him and his life but outside by the river there is a bronze statue of him sitting on a bench so you can sit and have a 'chat' with him too.
Mark Twain was best known as an author, but he was also a steamboat pilot, newspaper reporter, publisher, humorist, philosopher and lecturer. "No other man in the world is so universally identified with riverboating; Twain made the Mississippi known to the world and his inspired genius put the Father of Waters in the center of American lore. Because of him, the Mississippi is recognized as the symbol of America's vigorous spirit and individualism."
Other people in this area were either pioneers, explorers or artists who contributed to the Mississippi in some way or other but who are also now dead.
Louis Armstrong was another inducted in 1999 who earned his place for his Jazz playing on the steamboats along the Mississippi for many years.
One of the pioneers was Jim Bridger who was inducted in 2004. Bridger was one of many great American explorers, an illiterate mountain man who at the age of eight was orphaned and supported himself by running a ferry across the Mississippi and was later the first white man to set eyes on the Great Salt Lake.
Lewis and Clark , Joliet and Marquette and many others were also inducted in this hall of fame for their contribution to exploration around the Mississippi.
The builders and engineers although they obviously contributed a great deal were not necessarily names that I recognized, more my ignorance or lack of knowledge than a comment on their contributions I would suggest.
One such person was De Witt Clinton, the inspiration behind the Erie canal which linked New York to the Great Lakes and was known as 'Clinton's Ditch' when built. James Rumsey invented a "jet" propelled steamboat in 1787, 20 years before Fulton's Clermont. Rumsey successfully demonstrated his 48-foot steamboat on the Potomac River for George Washington. Robert Fulton an engineer was best known for his pioneering development of a practical steamboat. In 1807 his 146-foot steamboat the 'North River Steamboat of Clermont' and by this he not only proved the commercial feasibility of steamboats but also pioneered a new era in the history of transportation. There were many more fascinating people who I knew nothing about yet who had contributed such a lot to the world and in particular the world of rivers, navigation and transport.
THE RIVERBOAT MUSEUM
Some wonderful riverboat models, some behind glass cases and other exhibits where you could walk inside and feel like you were actually on the bridge of a steamboat. I hadn't realized quite how many of these rather romantic looking crafts caught fire and sank over the years. They were really very dangerous as they were steam driven which required a large fire aboard and obviously as many were made of wood this was not a great combination.
I also hadn't realized quite how huge some of these craft were. I sort of imagined they were the size of the one we went on in La Crosse or maybe a bit bigger but these were huge with several decks and cabins for passengers making longer journeys. These were the cruise ships of their day.
Another surprising piece of information was that these river boats were being used till very recently and indeed the biggest being 'The American Queen', launched in 1995 which was 127.4 m or 418 ft long and cost an amazing $65 million to build. It had six passenger decks and place for around 450 passengers which was scrapped as late as the early years in this century. There are still a few of these large ships around but not anything like in their heyday.
The aquariums with Mississippi exhibits we did visit and I was astounded by the size and ugliness of the catfish. The alligator garfish were also pretty impressive but the ones that I was most taken with were the turtles. There is something very appealing about both turtles and tortoises and these are always a winner for me.
One of the exhibits is a huge model catfish called 'Noodle' that you are invited to put your hand into the mouth of. I did but I think it was broken as nothing happened at all which was a little disappointing!
The beavers were a little shy but if you were patient and waited they came out and spent some time cleaning themselves. I wanted to see them swimming but it was also fascinating watching them groom each other, they are very sweet looking beasts.
THE CARVER WET LAB
We didn't spend a lot of time in here but it is the interactive area for children and families. Staff are there to explain and share information about the various exhibits. Children are encouraged to touch and feel things like beaver skins while in the touch tanks children can feel crayfish, snails and freshwater mussels with staff to guide them. It is a bit like in the Sea Life centres in the UK.
Around the museum there were so many of these from watching the river change over the years to sorting out problems of pollution and everyone was so clever. They were informative and also quite challenging. It is always better to help someone work out a solution rather than just give information as that way they remember it better and it becomes a real learning experience. These exhibits were really perfect and if I had a class of children learning about rivers, transport riverlife or pollution this would be a perfect place to bring them. One of the best of these inter active exhibits was the journey down the river from a bird's eye perspective, starting at the headwaters in Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota and going all the way to the to the Louisiana delta which was quite some trip.
THE WOODWARD WETLAND
As you walk outside, after having a 'chat' with mark twain in his bench you can make you way across the board walk through the wetland area. We were there in the heat of summer and late afternoon so we struggled to see any animals at all. I think they were all hiding in the shade somewhere. We could however see the Native American wikiup or wigwam which is a domed shaped dwelling used by local Native American tribes and an old restored fur-trader's log cabin set in amongst the foliage.
After walking through the wetland on the board walks you come to a jetty leading to the huge dredger the W.M.Black which used to dredge the river in this area. It was built in 1934 and was a steam driven paddle wheeler. You are welcomed aboard by a member of staff who explains a bit about the ship and its role on the river. He explains that the tour is self guided and basically follow the arrows around until you get back down to him. If you have any questions then he will happily try to answer them.
Initially you go and view the engines and you cannot help but be impressed by the size of the different parts. As you go up the different steps which are NOT disable friendly as they are very steep and narrow. We were able to see the dining room, the galley and the bedrooms of the crew which were far from luxurious. Everything was painted in a sort of gunmetal grey and was functional rather than comfortable. The pilot's deck was impressive and large, it never ceases to amaze me how they steer a ship from that high up especially as a ship's reaction time is so slow.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are two options for food and drink but as we didn't try either I cannot comment on what they are like. Either you can eat indoors or on our riverside patio at the River's Edge Café in the National River Center or snacks are available next to an open air aquarium in the Mississippi River Center.
BITS WE MISSED
The 3D cinema was extra and we were not interested in see the films there. The special exhibition on the Amazon river and species found there was upstairs but again we didn't investigate that. The Pfohl Family Boatyard where you can tour the Logsdon towboat, see some steamboat artifacts, and visit a recreation of a historic blacksmith shop and this didn't really grab our attention either.
You entry ticket allows you entry for two consecutive days so if you did want to go back and see the parts you missed on one day you can. If you paid a bit extra £3 you can get a ticket that will allow you entry into two further places in or near Dubuque and those are the Mathias Ham House historic site and the Old Jail Museum both properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As our time was limited we didn't go for the extra visits for $3.
The toilets were easily accessible as was the entire museum apart from the W.M. Black steps. They were also clean but I would expect nothing less in the USA in this sort of place.
There is the inevitable gift shop with books and souvenirs but I managed to avoid going there as we don't buy souvenirs generally as our house is cluttered enough!
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
Yes I think so. It gave a great oversight of what the Mississippi River has contributed to America over the years. So many people have been inspired by the river and many others have shaped the river's history through exploration, engineering or working on and around the river. This museum looked at the past, the present and then also looked at problems that may occur from pollution and using the river in the future. I loved the inter active displays as these are just perfect for children to learn from. I thought the level of information was just right with enough to keep you interested without over doing it.
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Museum International / Address: Stiegl-Brauwelt, Bräuhausstraße 9, 5020 Salzburg, Österreich
Museum International / Address: Museum of Technology in Warsaw, Pałac Kultury i Nauki, pl. Defilad 1, 00-901, Warszawa - Also contains the State Ethnographic Museum
Address: Kozia 11 Warsaw, Poland / Museum International / Telephone: +48 22 827 88 95 - A cracker of a museum and the only one of its kind anywhere. Founded by cartoonist Eryk Lipinski in 1978, this museum is housed in the former gardener's house of the Primate's palace. The lion's share of the collection is of ...
Address: Salinen Tourismus GmbH, Salzbergstraße 21, 4830 Hallstatt / Museum International / Tel.: +43 (0) 6132 200 24 00 / Salt mine/museum in Sourthern Salzkammergut region (different from Hallein)
Address: Kigali Memorial Centre, c / Museum International /o The Aegis Trust, P.O Box 7251, Kigali, Rwanda - The Kigali Memorial Centre was opened on the 10th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, in April 2004. The Centre is built on a site where over 250,000 people are buried. These graves are a clear remind...
Address: Charles-Eames-Straße 1 / Museum International / D-79576 / Weil am Rhein / Germany
Address: Columbusstrasse 65 / Museum International / 27568 Bremerhaven / Germany
Address: Korkeavuorenkatu 23 / Museum International / 00130 Helsinki
Address: Kariye Camii Sok / Museum International / Kariye Meydani / Edirnekapi / Istanbul / Tel: 0212 631 9241
Address / Museum International / Lai 1 /10133 Tallinn / Estonia / Tel: 372 6679 555
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