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Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum Launches $1 Million Matching Campaign

Harrogate, Tennessee, June 21, 2018— Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) held a ceremonial groundbreaking to kick off the public phase of the Dorothy M. Kincaid $1 Million Matching Challenge for expansion of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum (ALLM) on Tuesday, June 19. 

“We have a tremendous opportunity here, the biggest opportunity the museum has had since Colonel Sanders made that offer of a challenge gift 40 years ago,” said ALLM Director Michael Lynch. “We are going to use this campaign money to transform the way we tell the story of Lincoln and the Civil War.” 

The gift from the estate of Hansel O. and Dorothy M. Kincaid will facilitate the most thorough overhaul to the ALLM since the building was dedicated in 1977. Fittingly, the 

original construction of the ALLM was made possible thanks to the half million dollar matching gift from Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders. Hansel’s uncle, Dr. Robert Lee Kincaid, served as LMU’s ninth president from 1947-1958 and the Kincaid family has been financial supporters of LMU for many years. 

“This museum is one of the centerpieces of what we do here at LMU,” said LMU President Dr. Clayton Hess. “It connects us with history. It connects us with our mission and really does a lot to distinguish the university. This project to enhance it will help us to grow and help us to spread the word about Lincoln, the Museum and about LMU.” 

Chairman of the LMU Board of Trustees Dr. O.V. “Pete" DeBusk described the importance of the museum expansion as part of the larger vision for improvements all across the LMU campus. “The museum is going to be the icon,” DeBusk said. “When anyone drives by or enters campus, the museum makes the first impression, and we want to put a nice face on it and make it really look great.” 

The University has raised a substantial portion of the $1 million dollar for dollar match. In the coming months, LMU must raise $460,000 to meet the challenge. The University has launched a challenge website at www.LMUnet.edu/Kincaid for supporters to make gifts online and follow the challenge’s progress. 

Updates to the ALLM will begin July 9, with an overhaul of the first gallery - to the tune of $250,000 - that will tell the story of the first part of Lincoln’s life from his family background to his election to the presidency. The exhibits related to Lincoln’s presidency, from the election of 1860 until the onset of the war, will also be refurbished, along with the most popular exhibits, those related to Lincoln’s assassination and funeral. 

New exhibits are planned that will tell the story of the Civil War from the perspective of ordinary Americans and showcase ways Americans have commemorated Lincoln through sculptures, art, print, souvenirs and more. Finally, renovations, which will include building expansion, will create a space to tell the story of LMU and the origin of the school and 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. 

Co-chair of the Challenge Campaign, Gary Thurman, spoke representing the Kincaid Estate: “Robert Kincaid found an intellectual, academic and emotional home here at LMU. Dr. Kincaid’s legacy was his abiding interest in the Abraham Lincoln collection.” 

“We are the living memorial to Abraham Lincoln,” said Dr. B. James Dawson. “Abraham Lincoln is our brand and we have at the front door of this campus this beautiful facility that will become even more important as we change the façade.” 

“This museum is something that is just very very special to me,” said Dr. Gary Burchett. “The memories, to see what we have been able to grow and to display. We are indebted to the challengers and hope that everyone will rise to the occasion.” 

The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is located on the historic campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.  Housing one of the top five Lincoln and Civil War private collections in the world, the Museum is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information about this and other programs at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, call 423-869-6235. 

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 e-mail at admissions@lmunet.edu.

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6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway
Harrogate, TN 37752