One of my adventures on this trip was our excursion to Springfield, Illinois. We went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, ALPLM. This is one of the best museums I have ever visited. They have extraordinary permanent exhibits and shows. When you enter the museum you go into the Plaza, which is the rotunda in the middle of the museum. All of the exhibits and shows begin off of this plaza.
Their two permanent exhibits have extreme entrances. For Journey One: The Pre-Presidential Years exhibit that covers Lincoln’s life from childhood to his election as President, you enter through a replica of his childhood log cabin with full-size trees surrounding it. To make the atmosphere more real, they have a recording of birds singing and bugs chirping. This exhibit is well put together and organized. There are full-size replicas of one of his stores, a slave auction platform and his Springfield law office. At the end of the exhibit there is a section about the election and campaigning as if it were a modern campaign. They put it together with the help of the late Tim Russert of Meet the Press.
The other main exhibition is Journey Two: The White House Years. You enter this exhibit through a replicated portico of the White House with wax figures of people in the President’s life. I did not have a chance to get to this exhibit but will definitely make the journey back to the ALPLM.
They also have an artifacts exhibit with rare and special items on display. When we were there, they had one of his surviving three top hats, lots of memorabilia from the Ford Theater and the fateful night the Lincolns attended and so much more.
There are two special effects theaters at the museum with shows starting every fifteen minutes. They are pretty cool productions. One, my favorite, tells visitors why a museum will collect historic artifacts and their importance. It is called Ghosts of the Library. The other show focused on Lincoln’s eyes that tell the stories of his presidency. This was what they called a 4-D show with smoke, strobes and vibrations.
While we were there, the performers sang a short set of patriotic songs in the Plaza. They sang My Country Tis of Thee with the Gettysburg Address being read in the middle, America the Beautiful/God Bless America and The Star-Spangled Banner. The band joined them for the latter two. We also had one performer sing Tell My Father from The Civil War by Frank Wildhorn.
On the way out of town, we stopped at the Abraham Lincoln tomb. This is a beautiful monument to a great man. Does anyone know how many Presidential tombs there are? I know of Lincoln’s, Grant’s and Washington’s.
I did get a patch at this museum. It is basically the libraries seal. I wish we had been in the museum and Springfield longer to visit more of the sites like the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. More to come about my Nauvoo adventure …