The “Unfinished Work” exhibit features documents and artifacts
from the immense Taper collection. Among them:
- A promissory note in which Lincoln promised to pay $379.82,
an amount he called “my national debt.”
- His patent for a mechanism to get stranded riverboats off of
obstructions. No other U.S. president has held a patent.
- His beloved stepmother’s “X” signature on a receipt.
- A gorgeously illustrated copy of the Emancipation
- A ticket to his funeral at the White House.
The exhibit takes its name from the Gettysburg Address, in
which Lincoln described the “unfinished work” of bringing
freedom to the nation. The name refers both to Lincoln’s life
being cut short and to the mission of ensuring that these and
other irreplaceable artifacts find a permanent home at the
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation has raised
almost $14 million in in-kind and financial support for the
Permanent Home Campaign, which has some $11 million remaining to
be raised until its completion.
“Unfinished Work” runs April 15 to May 15. Most of the exhibit's
items on display are underwritten by generous donors; others
remain available for sponsorship.
“This exhibit is important not only because of the historic
documents and artifacts it showcases, but also because in very
quiet and understated ways it honors the generous individuals
who underwrote each item to ensure they all have a permanent
home at the Lincoln Presidential Library,” said Dr. Carla
Knorowski, chief executive officer of the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library Foundation.
The exhibit is divided into several sections: Career, Family,
Presidency, Friends, Mary and Assassination. They guide visitors
from Lincoln’s days as a struggling shopkeeper to his presidency
to the tragedy of his death. They take visitors beyond Lincoln
to the lives of his widow, his son and his sole grandson.
lives of everyone around Lincoln were made more poignant by
association. His elders, his friends, his colleagues, his loved
ones – we learn about Lincoln by learning about them and
vice-versa,” said James M. Cornelius, curator of the
presidential library’s Lincoln Collection. “The Taper collection
offers us these rare chances to understand his relationships.”
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“Unfinished Work” will be presented in the museum’s Illinois Gallery. The
exhibit is free with regular admission to the museum.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a division of the Illinois
Historic Preservation Agency, is dedicated to telling the story of America’s
16th president through old-fashioned scholarship and modern technology.
The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents,
photographs, artifacts and art, including the Gettysburg Address, Emancipation
Proclamation, 13th Amendment and Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat. It also serves
as the state’s historical library, with some 12 million items pertaining to
The museum uses traditional exhibits, eye-catching special effects and
innovative story-telling techniques to educate visitors. It also presents an
array of temporary exhibits about Lincoln and Illinois.
The museum is open seven days a week. The library portion of the ALPLM is open
free of charge Monday through Friday for research. For details, visit
[Shanta Thoele, Communications and
Public Affairs, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]