Newest Review: ... 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... more
The story of a self taught man who became the sixteenth President
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Mueum (Illinois, USA)
Member Name: catsholiday
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Mueum (Illinois, USA)
Advantages: Really interesting and great displays presented in a variety of ways
Disadvantages: None for us
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.
Thank for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
Summary: A very thorough museum devoted to telling the story of President Lincoln
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