I had heard that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum was “really awesome,” but I thought, “How awesome can a museum be?” I knew there were some really neat Lincoln artifacts and exhibits, and for years museums have been making exhibits more interactive with use of “please touch,” push buttons to activate audio, and more recently, touch screen computers. So although I knew the Lincoln museum would be a pleasant experience, my level of anticipation wasn’t set all that high. Was I ever wrong! The first time I visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum I was astonished at the awesome use of special effects. It turns out that one of the museum’s designers was a former Disney animatronics engineer.
The Lincoln family “greets” you as you enter the Plaza outside the White House, the most popular photo op, especially since you’re allowed to take photos only in the Plaza and in Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic, the children’s dress-up and play room.
The shows are an absolute must to see. This is where you begin to see the real effects created by the museum designers. “Ghosts of the Library,” uses Holavision® to create the sensation of characters appearing and disappearing. In “Lincoln’s Eyes,” be prepared for a shaking seat, smoke and other effects used to fully engage you in the experience.
You’ll feel the special effects incorporated into other exhibits, too, like the chill and the sound of pouring rain as you pass Mary Todd Lincoln mourning the loss of her second son and the somber mood in the scene of Lincoln lying in state in the Illinois State Capitol House Chamber.
Not all of the exhibits have special effects, because some of the artifacts stand on their own, artifacts like the casts made of Lincoln’s face and hands…
…or one just a few original handwritten copies of the Gettysburg Address.
Before leaving the museum, if you have children with you, spend some time in Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic, where the kids can dress in period costume and play with toys popular in Lincoln’s day. Even if you don’t have kids, take a peek inside. If it’s a slow day, and you time it right, you may just be entertained by the staff.
Newly added to the library is the open-ended exhibit “Lincoln: From History to Hollywood,” a collection of sets and costumes from Steven Spielberg’s hit movie Lincoln. The exhibit is housed in the old Union Station across the street from the museum. The exhibit is free to children accompanied by an adult. The adult fee for the exhibit is $5, or you can get the “full experience” package for $15, for a savings of $2 when visiting both the museum and the “Lincoln: From History to Hollywood” exhibit.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is located at 212 N Sixth Street, Springfield, Illinois. Check the web site for hours and full pricing schedule.
Thank you to the Abraham Lincoln President Museum for providing the photos of Lincoln’s casts, the Gettysburg Address, and Ghosts of the Library.
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