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Bench & Bar
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Bench & Bar Section

May 2017, vol. 47, no. 10

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

From the start, Bob Rogers—founder and Chief Creative Officer of BRC Imagination Arts, the design and production firm that created the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum—was determined to “combine scholarship and showmanship to connect the public to Abraham Lincoln’s life and times.” With his creative team, Rogers designed the museum with interactive exhibits, theaters, a children’s area, and a “Holavision” presentation using a ghost that interacts with the live audience. A panel of the world’s top Lincoln historians and teachers worked closely with the exhibit designers to ensure that the stories told in the museum would be accurate.

Lincoln’s Law Office is a center piece in the area that focuses on his legal and political career. That same area shows a map of the judicial circuit that he traveled by horseback for many years and how attorneys and the judge traveled together from one county courthouse to the next one and how they usually shared a bedroom and frequently shared a bed. This is right before the election of 1860, which was “covered” by the late Tim Russert, formerly of NBC. He is operating in the control room of a television studio showing the candidates.

On February 12, 2001, groundbreaking ceremonies launched construction first of the Library and the Museum a year later. Included in the new complex was the rehabilitation of the 100-year-old former passenger-train station directly west of the Museum to serve as a tourism gateway. The Library, which opened in 2004, is the former Illinois State Historical Library, and it houses an unparalleled collection of Lincoln-related papers and artifacts, as well as an unrivaled collection on Illinois history.

The Museum was dedicated on April 19, 2005, in a ceremony attended by President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, future President and then U.S. Senator Barack Obama, and about 25,000 guests from around the world who crowded Springfield’s downtown for the occasion.

The public responded enthusiastically to the Museum, quickly making it the most visited presidential library and museum in the United States. Attendance reached one million visitors on January 6, 2007, and two million on July 4, 2009. No presidential library and museum in the United States had reached the two million visitor mark more quickly. The three-millionth visitor passed through the Museum’s doors on August 21, 2012. The four-millionth visitor came in February 26, 2016.

Many people from all over the world love this experience. A number who have visited all the Presidential Museums have told me, this one is the best.

On March 24, 2017 the museum opened a special exhibit with material from the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Baseball Hall of Fame. This exhibit will be open until the end of this year.

MUSEUM. 9 AM – 5 PM DAILY (Last ticket sold at 4 PM.). CLOSED—New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Cafe in-house dining (10 AM – 4 PM).