Monday, Jan. 8

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum welcomes its 1 millionth visitor Send a link to a friend

1 millionth visitor reached in less than two years since opening; fastest pace set by any presidential museum

[JAN. 8, 2007]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced Saturday that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum welcomed its 1 millionth visitor since opening in April of 2005. Reaching the milestone of 1 million in less than two years is believed to be the fastest pace set by any presidential museum. The Clinton Library reached 800,000 visitors in its first two years of operation. Officials with the Clinton Foundation anticipate reaching 1 million visitors sometime in 2007.

Craig Schone of Chapin was welcomed as the museum's 1 millionth visitor.

"This accomplishment in such a short time is a testament to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, the city of Springfield, and Illinois," Blagojevich said. "Since April of 2005, folks from around the state, the nation and the world have experienced the remarkable story of Lincoln -- a man of great integrity and perseverance and one of our nation's greatest leaders."

Blagojevich opened the presidential museum with President George W. Bush and a host of dignitaries in April of 2005. The dedication in Union Square Park, across from the museum, concluded two decades of planning and hard work, bringing the public and private life of Abraham Lincoln to the forefront. In its first year, the presidential library and museum attracted more than 600,000 visitors, doubling predictions for first-year attendance. Visitors have come from every state in the nation and a number of countries around the world. Schoolchildren make up a significant portion of visitors.

"We at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are thrilled to welcome our millionth visitor," said Rick Beard, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. "As we prepare for the bicentennial of Mr. Lincoln's birth over the next two years, we look forward to telling even more visitors the important story of our 16th president's life and times."

The 1 millionth visitor received a key to the city of Springfield, presented by Mayor Tim Davlin; two tickets to the inaugural swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural ball; and a gift basket from the museum gift shop, compliments of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

"Drawing a million visitors to this museum in its first 21 months is a triumph for Springfield and for Illinois," said Julie Cellini, board chairwoman, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. "But most of all it is a validation of the bold concept of this museum -- to tell a 19th-century story in ways that audiences of the 21st century are wholeheartedly embracing,"

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Attendance numbers aside, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is proud of several other accomplishments since the April 2005 opening, including three blockbuster exhibits, "Blood on the Moon," "Christmas at the White House" and "Mrs. President: From Martha to Laura." With foundation support, the library and museum unveiled new programs such as "Evenings to Remember," featuring former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, former Illinois congressman Dan Rostenkowski, Pulitzer-prize winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and acclaimed television journalist Bill Kurtis. The library and museum also launched the Jim Edgar Lecture Series, featuring Pulitzer-prize winning historian David McCullough and author-journalist David Brooks.

Upcoming events include "Tales from the Crypt: A History of the Lincoln Tomb." This exhibit will relive the events and decisions surrounding the creation of the Lincoln Tomb -- from the tomb raiders to the plots to steal Lincoln's body and continuing through the restoration of the site and reburying of Lincoln in 1901. In addition, the exhibit will look at the caretakers that have protected this historic site through the years. All this and more will be on exhibit Feb. 3 through March 25.

Then the museum will present "Mary Todd Lincoln: First Lady of Controversy," debuting in April. The show will tell the story of a young Mary Todd in Kentucky, her troubled courtship and eventual marriage to the young lawyer Abraham Lincoln. Continue on her path as Mary assumes her new role as wife and mother, taking charge of running the household and raising a family. As first lady, Mary undertakes a major renovation of the White House, which had been left in neglect. The tragedy of war, the loss of her son Willie and the assassination of President Lincoln all left emotional scars that never healed. Robert Todd Lincoln, convinced that his mother was insane, had her committed for a brief time in a private sanitarium. Mary's efforts to be released and her subsequent travels in Europe are all revealed. "Mary Todd Lincoln: First Lady of Controversy" runs April 28-Oct. 28.

[News release from the governor's office]


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