Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum to Close for Expansion
The Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum (ALLM) will host a special community celebration on Saturday, July 20, before closing its doors for a $3.6 million expansion project expected to last until late 2020.
The closing will move the project into its final phase, which includes the addition of new galleries, an elevator, new restrooms and a learning laboratory to help visitors experience LMU’s extensive collection which covers the life of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War and the founding of the University.
"The next year will be really exciting because we're making the museum bigger and better than it's ever been,” said ALLM Director Michael Lynch. “We thought our last open weekend before the expansion work starts would be a great opportunity to invite the community to celebrate with us, see some of the items that are normally locked away in the vaults and pay a last visit before we go offline for a while."
The earlier phases of the project included the renovation of a permanent exhibit space in the summer of 2018, named the Kincaid Gallery in honor of the estate of Hansel O. and Dorothy M. Kincaid, which supported the renovation. The Kincaid Gallery houses a new exhibit, “Log Walls to Marble Halls,” which features some of the museum collection’s most prized artifacts, including a cabinet crafted by Thomas Lincoln, President Lincoln’s father, and a tea set used in the Lincolns’ home in Springfield, Illinois.
LMU completed a $1 million dollar for dollar matching campaign to facilitate the most thorough overhaul to the ALLM since the building was dedicated in 1977. Hansel’s uncle, Dr. Robert Lee Kincaid, served as LMU’s ninth president from 1947-1958 and the Kincaid family has financially supported LMU for many years. While the initial match has been met, LMU has extended the campaign to support further enhancements at the ALLM. The University has launched a challenge website at www.LMUnet.edu/Kincaid for supporters to make gifts online and follow the challenge’s progress.
"When we reopen, we're going to have some new exhibits, and people will be able to see more of the collection than ever before,” Lynch said. “It's part of a longer process of transforming the ways we share history with people."
The current galleries will undergo extensive renovations to include a new Civil War exhibit and additional artifacts relating to Lincoln’s presidency and assassination.
The expansion will feature a new exhibit on the ways Americans have commemorated Lincoln through sculptures, art, prints, souvenirs and more. Thousands of items like these are stored in the museum because of lack of space to display them.
Finally, the project will also create a space for an exhibit on the early history of LMU, the origins of the Lincoln collection, and the founding of the museum.
“LMU has a really fascinating story,” Lynch said. “It’s almost as interesting as the story of Lincoln himself. We want to explain to people why this school is here and how this region became transformed during the Civil War and in the decades after.”
Other updates to the ALLM will include new space for educational programing, hands-on activities for school groups and new space for virtual tours, as well as more resources for the Kincaid Research Center to amplify the museum as a scholarly resource. The University is also adding a small village of replica log cabins across the road from the ALLM. Located at the front of campus, Pioneer Village will include a re-creation of the frontier homes typical of Lincoln’s childhood and a replica of the early home of Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathic medicine.
“Lincoln Memorial University wants to shine a light on the rich history of rural Appalachia and the life of Abraham Lincoln,” said LMU Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk. “This significant expansion of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum will preserve our past and help educate everyone about the humble beginnings we have grown from. The Pioneer Village is an exciting addition as it provides an interactive experience where visitors can walk through a replica of the birth place of one of our greatest presidents who had the humblest of beginnings.”
The public is invited to celebrate with free admission from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on July 20, including cake and punch from 11 a.m. until noon, and glimpses inside the vault from noon until 6 p.m. The vault tours give visitors the rare opportunity to see specially protected and rarely displayed Lincoln artifacts, such as locks of family hair and signed Civil War documents. Tickets are required for vault tours because space is limited.
Visitors can also enjoy children’s crafts, a selfie station where all visitors can
tag their photos with #LincolnLegacy2020 and documentaries playing in the Arnold Auditorium. Guests can mail a museum postcard
to themselves in the future, stating their goals for 2020 and registering for a notification
when the museum reopens its doors.
A memory wall will provide visitors a place to share favorite museum trips throughout the years. The museum gift shop items will be priced 50% off.
While closed for renovations, the museum will continue community outreach through Skype in the Classroom, social media and other external programming.
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423.869.6280 or email at [email protected].