Friday, October 14, 2011
Illinois - Land of Lincoln
Recently I had a day to myself. That doesn’t happen very often, usually I find work to do that creeps into my day, but this past Sunday I found myself in Springfield IL with out a care in the world. I decided to fill the day with culture and adventure.
The weather here in the Midwest has been absolutely gorgeous and driving to the Museum in downtown Springfield was a real delight with the windows on my car down and the sun shining and the leaves lazily drifting down around me. This all set the mood for the day.
When the new state of the art Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was debuted I immediately wanted to go there and see the exhibits. I got my chance this past Sunday. In the Plaza you are greeted by a life size and realistic Lincoln Family. Perfect for taking your picture with the 16th president and his family.
I arrived early and had the place almost to myself for the first hour. There are two wonderfully imaginative and entertaining film presentations. The first film Ghosts of the Library, presented by AT&T has a live actor with superimposed film work behind him that tells us a bit about the achieves in the exhibits as well as explains what a presidential library is.
The second film is in The Union Theater, presented by Exelon - Lincoln's Eyes a full theatrical special effects spectacular giving a broad overview of Lincoln's life. "Lincoln's Eyes" focuses on the personal and political dramas and key issues of Lincoln's presidency, especially slavery. The story is told by an artist, who explains that while he was painting Lincoln’s portrait, struggled to understand all the things he saw in Lincoln's eyes: sorrow, resolve, hope, vision, forgiveness, and more. As he explains, he tells us a bit about Lincoln's life.
This production has interactive sound and motion so that during the parts about the war the theater actually shakes. Very exciting
The are life size exhibits of the early years, a log cabin inhabited by the Lincoln family when Abe was young.
Lincoln’s life as a young man.
An exhibit of his law office with Lincoln working and his sons playing.
His courtship of Mary and then the run for office.
The White House years.
I particularly enjoyed this exhibit which included dresses from the period.
There is also an interactive map in the area of the War years that shows you in 4 minutes the history of the war. Each second represents a week as it shows the shifting boundaries of the war with flashes that appear on the map in chronological order as each battle happens, as well as a tally at the bottom of the map of the dead. This was truly a moving exhibit with music playing in the background.
The final exhibit was a bit creepy but very interesting it showed the assassination, with a replica of the Ford Theater, the room where he died, the journey of the funeral train and a replica of the coffin lying in state at the state capital.
It is a fabulous place to visit.
After going there I wandered around downtown and then headed over to the Dana-Thomas house. This is an exquisite Frank Lloyd Wright house built in 1904. Unfortunately it is under renovation and I was unable to tour the inside. But I walked around it for a long time enjoying the stain glass windows and exterior of the home.
Finally I found a store called Steels that sells among other things Illini gear. I have two U of I graduates and a grand baby that need U of I shirts.
It was a thoroughly wonderful fall day.