In the 24 years that he lived in Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln rose from obscurity to President of the United States. In Lincoln’s hometown today, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is one of the more innovative destinations for the study of the 16th president.
Located at 212 North Sixth Street in downtown Springfield, the museum uses traditional artifact displays, full sized and lifelike figures, and multimedia presentations to illustrate and educate visitors about Lincoln. Life sized figures in room sized settings illustrate key events in Lincoln’s life, from his early years though his presidency in the Civil War to his death and funeral. One of the more poignant dioramas shows a family being separated at a slave auction as family members are dispersed to the highest bidders. In 1828, 19 year old Lincoln took a flatboat down the Mississippi river to New Orleans, where he witnessed the sale of slaves and began to form his anti slavery views.
Other dioramas depict life in the White House, Lincoln presenting the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet, and his assassination at Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth. Civil War weapons, uniforms, and other artifacts, plus many of Lincoln’s personal items can be seen in more traditional museum displays. Photography is not allowed in most areas of the museum.
The Lincoln Presidential Library is a research library with manuscripts of all kinds, photographs, microfilmed newspapers, and audio visual materials dealing with the Lincolns and the Civil War. Appointments are needed to use the Library’s research materials. There is no charge to use the library; admission is charged for the museum.
Visitors will want to allow at least a half a day to visit the museum, and it is well worth the time.