Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum Readies for Return of Artifacts
One of the world’s top private Lincoln and Civil War artifact collections, tucked safely away in storage for over a year, is set to return to a more spacious and newly renovated home at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum (ALLM) on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University (LMU).
“The renovation and expansion has certainly been the biggest project we’ve ever undertaken at the museum,” said Dr. Michael Lynch, ALLM director. “In 2020 we got to watch that project take physical shape. What started as a fundraising campaign and a set of architectural drawings has become a building that’s nearly complete, and almost ready to house the collections and new exhibits we have in store.”
The museum galleries and workspaces have been transformed from top to bottom. The lighting, climate control and security systems have all been replaced. The new façade and entrance are complete and feature a pediment with an image of Lincoln’s face and text from the Gettysburg Address reproduced from Lincoln’s handwriting. New exhibit galleries, a children’s learning lab, a collection processing area, restrooms and an elevator have been added on the building’s north side.
While the construction team has been hard at work on the structure, the museum staff spent most of 2020 developing the new exhibits. Curator Steven Wilson has designed a Civil War gallery for the museum’s collection of weapons, uniforms and other military artifacts. Museum Specialist Jonathan Smallwood is at work on an exhibit that explores the commemoration of Lincoln in art, advertising and film. Program Coordinator Natalie Sweet has developed an exhibit on the history of LMU and the Civil War around Cumberland Gap. Another new exhibit will focus on the last days of Lincoln’s life, the end of the war, and his assassination and funeral.
The collection of artifacts has continued to grow throughout the renovation. ALLM received several donations including an original signature of Daniel Chester French, the artist who sculpted the famous statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.; a letter from LMU founder and Civil War General O.O. Howard; commemorative Lincoln items; and additions to the library of Lincoln and Civil War books.
ALLM public programming continued throughout the construction and the pandemic in a virtual format. Pioneer Village, a collection of cabin replicas located near the museum, has provided a way to expand ALLM programming into the history of the region and Lincoln’s early life.
The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is located on the historic campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. The museum is closed for renovation and plans to reopen in 2021. For more information about continued programming while the museum is closed, call 423.869.6235 or follow ALLM on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.