The McLean County Museum of History has raided Lincoln'-related collections and archives for a new exhibit that explores Lincoln's life in central Illinois.
"Abraham Lincoln in McLean County" reveals Lincoln's deep local connections and how they influenced the man who would one day guide the nation. "We examine recollections and reminisces of Lincoln to provide a more complete portrait of Lincoln as a man and as a leader," said Museum Librarian Bill Kemp. "We take time to really look at stories local folk told of Lincoln to paint a more three dimensional portrait of the man."
The exhibit emphasizes Lincoln's role as a leader and moral voice in the years leading up to the Civil War, and it does so with state-of-the-art technology, such as touch screens. "We have an opportunity for people to interact with Lincoln's journey on the 8th Judicial Circuit," said Torii More, the Curator of Digital Humanities at the Museum. "They can drag their finger along a touch screen timeline and see how the circuit changed over time and see what Lincoln's experiences were like on the circuit."
There's also traditional hands-on interactives in the exhibit, such as a writing slate equipped with quill pens so visitors can experience what writing was like in the mid-19th century. The Curator of Collections and Exhibits is Susan Hartzold, who said the Museum was fortunate to be loaned a desk from the David Davis family. It originally sat in Davis' law office in downtown Bloomington, where Lincoln often visited to use the desk for correspondence and other work.
The exhibit also features a chance for visitors to reconstruct Lincoln's Lost Speech and determine whether particular Lincoln artifacts are real or fakes.