A new exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will celebrate the depth of the library’s collection by highlighting items that rarely get a turn in the spotlight, from a document signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to a pair of shoes from a Nazi concentration camp.
“Rare and Rarely Seen” opens to the public Sept. 28 and will run until Jan. 29, 2017. Members of the presidential library’s foundation get a preview of the exhibit on Sept. 27.
“What makes this exhibit so special is that it shows the depth of our collection through documents and artifacts that, in most cases, have never been on display before,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the presidential library and museum. “We’re excited to share these rare items with our visitors.”
Among the items on display in “Rare and Rarely Seen” are:
- Wooden shoes worn by a prisoner at the Dachau concentration camp
- A commission naming a federal marshal, signed by President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson
- A Howitzer shell representing Illinois that was fired during President Kennedy’s funeral
- A dress worn by Marilyn Monroe
- A letter from Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant expressing concern that he might be indicted for treason. It includes Grant’s handwritten recommendation that Lee not be prosecuted.
“The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum commemorates Lincoln, of course, but it is also the home of the Illinois State Historical Library. Millions of fascinating documents and artifacts that cover the gamut of Illinois history have made their way into the collection over the past 125 years, and we are so excited to share a few of them with the world in this exhibit,” said Dr. Samuel Wheeler, the state historian.
The exhibit also includes two interactive features. One was inspired by the section on politics and will let visitors vote on their favorite item in the exhibit. Another asks visitors to write about rare, precious items from their own lives; their answers will be posted for everyone to see.
“Rare and Rarely Seen” will be presented in the museum’s Illinois Gallery. The exhibit is free with regular admission to the museum.
The exhibit will be accompanied by a series of special events over the next four months.
Kid-friendly events are planned for Oct. 3 and Oct. 10. The historians and curators who produced the exhibit will offer a behind-the-scenes look at it on Nov. 17.
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.
It includes some 12 million items collected by the Illinois State Historical Library, which was founded in 1889 and eventually became part of the presidential library.
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 www.PresidentLincoln.illinois.gov.