Lincoln 1860

Lincoln 1860

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Fight Over Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Is Settled

The long-running fight between the state of Illinois and various contractors over cost overruns at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has finally been settled. The total project, including the library, museum, visitors center, parking garage and park took longer to plan and build than did the Civil War and cost a whopping 145 million dollars. An ugly dispute between the state and the contractors began even before the complex opened.

The contractors, including the architect, claimed that Illinois still owed them millions, while Illinois blamed them for huge delays on all phases of the project. To settle the dispute, Illinois will collect 3 million dollars from the contractors and in turn do not owe them a dime.

If you've never been to the Library and Museum, which is by far the most-attended of all the Presidential complexes, I would recommend it highly. I made a "pilgrimage" there a couple of years ago and found it to be informative and entertaining. To be sure, it's a little bit over the top with its "Disney-like" exhibits such as holographic presenters and a "recreation" of Lincoln's boyhood log cabin, but it also provides the casual visitor with accurate and detailed information about Lincoln and his family. When I visited, the Museum had a temporary exhibit about the assassination, titled "Blood On The Moon" and it was fascinating. The Museum gift shop is first rate with an excellent selection of books and other mementos for the more serious Lincoln fan, and the usual t-shirts and such for kids.


Anonymous said...


I have to be honest here and say I felt the museum was a bit cheesy. I hate to say that, because I know it will bring in a lot of people that otherwise may not try to learn much about Lincoln and it may even cause them to seek out and read (never a bad thing). Having Tim Russert broadcast a "news story" on the 1860 election might be an interesting way to get kids to understand it, but I think just looking at the items that Lincoln owned would have the same effect. The exhibit that showed the build-up of anti-Lincoln sentiment was just plain weird. However, I did like the cabinet meeting scenario as well as the recreation of the Lincoln casket in the Old State Capitol (even if they didn't have Lincoln's casket open). By and large, I guess this is the direction that popular Lincoln culture is taking, but I just can't feel comfortable about it.

By the way, in the restaurant, did you notice that the one thing they named after George McClellan was a "chicken" salad sandwich. Is that editorializing, or am I just conspiracy minded?


Geoff Elliott said...

Hi Rob,

Thanks for your comment. I'd forgotten completely about Tim Russert's "coverage" of the 1860 election. That was sort of interesting, I guess, but I wondered why they had that.

I would agree with you that the museum is a bit cheesy. I phrased it a bit more generously as "Disney-like" but the point is well-taken. I'm not sure why the creators/operators of the museum feel as though they had to have it like that.

I've been to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Ark. and it's actually dignified and quite serious. Ironic, to say the least, when you compare the two men. :-)

As for the George W. Bush sandwich, I didn't notice, but that's great. They could have George W. Bush stationery, too, but it would have disappearing ink on it in honor of his disappearing from National Guard Duty.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for creating this blog. I have been fascinated with Abraham Lincoln for many years. I recently visited the Lincoln Presidential museum in Springfield and enjoyed it, particularly the Lincoln “treasures”. What I absolutely did not like was the figure of John Wilkes Booth leaning against a pillar of the White House fa├žade. We had a photo taken of our group with the Lincoln family. Later, when viewing the photo, I noticed Booth in the background. What are they thinking?!? I consider it disrespectful to the Lincolns to have his murderer in a location that would include Booth in their family portrait. I know some may be “titillated” by the scene, but for me, as one who truly esteems Mr. Lincoln, it seems disrespectful to his memory. I’d appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

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