Less than a month ago our family met with the Lincolns at their place in Springfield, Illinois. We went to visit Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, the one place that you shouldn’t miss when you are in the neighborhood.
Our son had been learned and read a few books about President Lincoln for the past few years. Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House Series and Who Was? Book Series were a couple of them. The visit to the museum brought back all the information he got from the books. Everything was like becoming alive. Let me explain why.
Visiting the Lincolns at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
Not like the traditional museum with flat images and dead objects in glass boxes, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum uses 21st century technology to bring 19th century history alive. We engaged to the exhibits in a new way, as if we were part of the 19th century history.
The museum is divided into 2 parts: The Journey, Part I – The Pre-Presidential Years, and The Journey, Part II – The White House Years.
As we walked to the Plaza – the center of the museum – we saw the Lincolns standing as they would have appeared shortly after they arrived in the White House. It looks like they are welcoming us to their house. Our son recognized Willie and Tad immediately, the two younger sons of the Lincolns. And of course, he stood next to Willie when we took pictures with the Lincolns.
The Journey, Part I – The Pre-Presidential Years
We started our journey at Lincoln’s one-room boyhood log cabin home. It is based on his log cabin home in Indiana, after young Lincoln and his family moved from Kentucky where he was born. The log cabin surrounded by reproduction trees that studies showed growth around Indiana at that time. Here we saw Lincoln reading a book by the fire-place when the rest of the family were sleeping. “Do you know that Abraham Lincoln liked to read?” My son and his friend conversation when he was in 2nd grade came back to me when were inside the log cabin.
Then we walked through the exhibition of Slave Auction. It was a common tragedy happened at that time. The historian wonder whether Abraham Lincoln came across such a scene during his trip down the Mississippi when he worked as a ferryman.
Next is Lincoln in New Salem exhibition, his first business venture. This is where he met and fell in love with Ann Rutledge.
Then we entered Life in Springfield exhibition. The gallery is presenting Lincoln courtship with Mary, his home life, his legal and political careers, his law practice, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
From here we moved to Campaign 1860. It was the year of Lincoln’s Presidential Campaign and the museum presented it in a clever way, using the 21st century style news broadcast. It was hosted by the late NBC news legend, Tim Russert. We’re like entering the news control room to watch the campaign.
At last, we watched Lincoln delivered his emotional farewell speech from the back of his train before leaving Springfield, Illinois for Washington, D.C.
The Journey, Part II – The White House Years
The Lincoln family posed in the Plaza is actually the beginning of part II. That’s how they appeared in front of the White House in 1861.
Then we moved to another exhibit, “What Are They Wearing in Washington?”, in which Mary is being fitted for a gown for the White House Ball. She was surrounded by her social rivals. Each piece of clothing in this exhibit were carefully researched, right down to the buttons, belts, and undergarments.
Whispering Gallery is the next exhibit we entered. The wall was full of negative illustrations towards the Lincolns from what we call today the bullies. It is set up in a dark, crooked, disturbing hallway where you can also hear voices whispering mean things about the Lincolns as you pass by. Very depressing.
Next stop was even depressing, The Death of Willie. I had to wipe my eyes here. Just imagine parents lost their lovely child.
After that we walked to the Emancipation Proclamation – Illustration Corridor exhibit. Faces appear ghosted between columns, shouting advice to President Lincoln. At the end of the hallway is Lincoln standing over a table with a pen in hand, weighing his options in releasing the Emancipation Proclamation.
Then we walked to Ford’s Theater, the recreation of the presidential box where John Wilkes Booth shot him at point-blank range at approximately 10:15 p.m. (Our family been to the one in Washington, D.C. When you have a chance, you must go there).
We ended the journey at Lying in State exhibit. When we walked here, we felt like we were paying our last respect to him.
2 other things you shouldn’t miss when visiting the Lincolns at Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum:
1. Ghosts of the Library
This is one of the best theater in the museum that we have ever watched. A live host combined with a dramatic and magical special effects presentation that uses Holavision technology, went on an exciting journey as he approached a great research of collection. Full of surprises from the beginning to the end. A must-see.
2. The Union Theater
This is a fully automated theatrical special effect in which personal and political dramas and key issues during Lincoln’s presidency presented in a spectacular way. Another must-see when you are in the museum.
Another gallery that our family found interesting is Ask Mr. Lincoln. A small nook of Q & A between President Lincoln and others.
Then you will walk through the Gift Shop on the way out. The Gift Shop carries everything Lincoln’s that you can imagine as well as other stuff that will make you feel to buy something before you leave.
All in all, we were very pleased with our visit here. Our son said, “It’s a pretty good museum.” We really recommend you and your family to make a visit to Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.
Location: 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield, IL 62701
Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily (last ticket sold at 4 pm)
- Adults: $15
- Seniors (62+) $12
- Military (ID required): $10
- Children (5-15): $6
- 4 and under no charge
- Student (ID required): $12
Visited: July 27, 2017.
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