Calendar  |  Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County

A grand day for a grand opening

Lincoln Heritage Museum reopens as 'outstanding'!

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[April 28, 2014]  Saturday could not have been a more perfect day. The sun came out early in the morning, warming the air to a comfortable temperature, and Mother Nature decided to calm the winds that have tormented Logan County of late.

As the 10 o'clock hour approached, folks began to gather at the front doors of the new Lincoln Heritage Museum on the campus of Lincoln College. They were there to show support of a long, hard effort to bring the new museum to fruition, and of course, to be among the first to get a peek inside at what from now on can easily be called "the gem" of the college, if not the entire city and county, and we dare say, maybe even the Looking for Lincoln territory.

As folks arrived, there were plenty of handshakes and smiles. This was also the college's alumni reunion weekend, so some of the attendees were also enjoying a chance to visit old friends and classmates.

The official ceremony began with Lincoln College President John Blackburn taking the podium and welcoming everyone to the momentous day.

"This is a dream realized," he told the group. "It is a dream that we had for a lot of years, starting in the late '90s, and probably truly was (the dream of) the leader of that time, Dr. Jack Nutt."

Blackburn expressed gratitude to all the contributors, from state resources to local benefactors, for their financial support of the museum. He acknowledged the presence of chamber, city and county board members, and made special note of former state Sen. Larry Bomke in attendance.

He acknowledged past and present college board members and a recently formed group, Friends of the Museum.

He added much-deserved thanks to the maintenance, security and dining staff, the faculty, and residents of the college for their hard work. He finished by saying, "I think God blessed us today, too. What a day he gave us."

Blackburn then introduced Anthony Bedford, who sang the national anthem. Bedford was the recipient of the Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Award, given to the freshman student who is deemed to have contributed the most to the welfare of fellow students throughout his or her involvement in the total Lincoln College community. He is vice president of Life Changing Studies, a Bible study group formed by LC students, and a member of the college chorale and chamber choir.

After Bedford's beautiful rendition of the national anthem, Blackburn returned to the podium to introduce nationally known Lincoln scholar Dan Weinberg. Weinberg is a Lincoln College trustee and chairman of the Lincoln Heritage Committee. He was involved in the design of the new museum and worked to assure historical accuracy in the museum.

Weinberg opened by saying, "Now the eternal question begins: Is this a college with a museum attached, or a museum with a college attached?" He continued by saying that the museum is as much a place of learning as the college itself.

He said Abraham Lincoln still has much to teach us all, and that is what the museum is about. He quoted the museum motto: "Learn like Lincoln. Live like Lincoln."

He went on to say: "We are artifact-oriented, as artifacts tend to place us in the moment. As you view the various artifacts on display and read the various storylines, don't let the numerous trees obscure the entire forest. For it is Lincoln, the forest, that (is) made up of so many different aspects, like a multitude of trees in a forest. That is the man whom we seek to understand and emulate."

Weinberg went on to name specific people, groups and committees who throughout the history of the construction of the museum contributed through their vision and leadership, and he remembered with sorrow those who were dedicated to the college and museum and did not live to see this great day for the college.

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The next guest speaker was state Rep. Rich Brauer, who Blackburn said had been a great friend to the college and a great supporter of the museum project.

Brauer began by saying that when first elected 12 years ago, a friend gave him some sage advice about the city of Lincoln. "She said, ‘Stand next to Sen. Bomke. They love Sen. Bomke in Lincoln,'" Brauer recalled. "We are very lucky to have had a senator like that who served this area."

Brauer then acknowledged Bomke in the audience, to a healthy round of applause.

Brauer talked about how Abraham Lincoln was embarrassed by his lack of formal education. He said that Lincoln educated himself, even during the Civil War, and strove to be well informed. Therefore, it is fitting that a college, where young people can learn and grow, should be named for this president.

He added that Lincoln was also one who would be embarrassed by the attention he has been given through the college and museum; that he would be humbled to see how many were present; and how he would also be honored.

Blackburn next introduced Mayor Keith Snyder — first joking that Snyder was employed by "the other university" in Lincoln — but then went on more seriously to say that the mayor and the city have been great supporters of Lincoln College and the museum.

Blackburn supportively said that Snyder is working hard to preserve the history and heritage of the Lincoln community through several organizations and complimented him, saying, "That work is greatly appreciated."

Snyder opened with comments concerning Daniel Day-Lewis, who played the starring role in the Steven Spielberg movie "Lincoln." In an interview, Day-Lewis said he thought that having himself cast as Lincoln was a bad idea, even after the filming of the movie, "but by that time it was too late." The actor said: "I had already been drawn into Lincoln's orbit. It was a very powerful orbit. Which is interesting because we tend to hold him at such a distance. He's been mythologized almost to the point of dehumanization. But when you approach him, he almost instantly becomes welcoming and accessible, the way he was in life. He draws you closer to him."

Snyder went on to say: "The interesting thing is, we didn't create the mythology of Abraham Lincoln. We slept, and ate, and walked, and joked, and worked with Abraham Lincoln. In fact we were so taken with the gentleman that we named our community after him in 1853 — the only community in the world that did that. To the Lincoln College students here today, and to those sleeping in, I would say to you: This demonstrates that we see greatness long before others do and that we see greatness in all of you."

Snyder finished by saying, "He is not a myth here." He said the city is very proud of the museum and the college.

Before introducing museum director Ron Keller, Blackburn said that Sen. Bill Brady was present to make a special presentation. Blackburn noted his appreciation for Sen. Brady and his support of Lincoln College. He said Brady and Brauer are always asking how they can help Lincoln College. "It is really refreshing when your legislators are asking how they can help you," Blackburn said.

Brady took the podium and congratulated everyone on the opening of the museum. Brady said he's read a lot of books on Abraham Lincoln, all of them important, because Lincoln is someone from whom we can learn the strength of perseverance, the importance of God and faith, and the importance of humanity.

Brady then presented Ron Keller with a certificate from the Illinois Senate, "acknowledging the opening of this wonderful asset to the State of Illinois, county of Logan, and city of Lincoln."



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