Thursday, June 18, 2009
Currently on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. is an exhibit about Lincoln's assassination and the ensuing hunt for his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. "Manhunt: Chasing Lincoln's Killer" opened a few months ago and will be featured at the Newseum until February 28, 2010.
The exhibit is a joint product of the Newseum and James L. Swanson, the author of "Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase For Lincoln's Killer," a former best-seller. If you've not read the book, do yourself a favor and do so. The narrative is gripping and expertly captures the national drama surrounding the assassination and the desperate efforts to capture Booth and the conspirators.
Unlike previous exhibits about the assassination, this one presents how the media reported the tragedy and the search for Booth. Featured are reproduction and original newspapers, mourning posters and photos, and other artifacts depicting how the public was kept informed. Photos of Lincoln, Booth, his co-conspirators are shown to tell the story. Reproduction casts of Lincoln's face and hands are also on display in the exhibit.
The exhibit has proven to be a popular one at the Newseum, the only such museum dedicated to the history of modern news reporting. Ironically, it's located in Washington, D.C. at the site of the National Hotel, used by Booth for lodging in the days leading up to the assassination.
The link I listed in the opening paragraph contains more information about the exhibit, including video of Mr. Swanson explaining more about the events of April 1865. Also featured are interactive maps showing the various places which factored in the assassination.
There are of course numerous resources available for learning more about Lincoln's assassination. PBS ran a special back in February about it on American Experience. My review of the show may be found here. It was basically a film version of Swanson's book. The History Channel had a two-hour documentary about 18 months ago titled "The Hunt For John Wilkes Booth." You can read more about that documentary here. Finally, a more detailed story about this exhibit in Washington may be found here.