Abraham Lincoln spoke to the better angels of our nature. A great way to celebrate President’s Day or Lincoln’s birthday is a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, located half way between St. Louis and Chicago, in the Land of Lincoln—Illinois.
High-Tech History Lesson
Looking for clues to what made the 16th president a legend? You’ll find them here in entertaining and interactive exhibits. Although there’s plenty of important historic memorabilia— a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address and one of his iconic stovepipe hats— it’s the state-of-the-art computer technology that really makes the Great Emancipator come alive for kids.
“Ghosts of the Library” combines live acting with holograms to bring many of the museum’s prized artifacts to life. It’s a stage production that gets kids thinking about the importance of studying and understanding history. A live host interacts with archival objects that magically come to life through the use of Disney caliber special effects. It’s just one of the many elements in the museum that will make your jaw drop in wonder.
The most powerful exhibit for me was the “whispering gallery”— a holographic hall where you hear ghosts arguing the many sides of the Civil War debate. Southern farmers, northern abolitionists, slaves, they’re all trying to get their point across. Through their whispers, kids gain insight into just how heart-wrenching the decision to go to war was for Lincoln.
History has gone high-tech here— a perfect strategy for teaching and entertaining the internet generation. But not everything is cutting edge.
Climb Up to Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic
Younger kids will love the play area, Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic. Here they’ll get to build a log cabin with good old fashioned Lincoln Logs and try on period dress-up costumes.
And don’t forget to take your picture with the life-size first family, before you leave!
The Great Emancipator’s spirit is alive and well at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois. For hours, exhibit information and admission price, go to www.alplm.org.
Andrea Guthmann is a freelance journalist. She spent many years as a writer and producer for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago. Her travel stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent, Make It Better and on-line travel sites.
A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. After giving birth to 2 beautiful children she’s had the joy of becoming a mom again through adoption. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations and is working hard to raise 3 happy campers! You can follow her on Twitter at @AndreaGuthmann.