Come ‘home’ again with new exhibit at Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
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SPRINGFIELD – The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened a major new exhibit Thursday that explores the elusive idea of “home” and the many different ways Illinoisans have made this state their home over the centuries.
“Here I Have Lived: Home in Illinois” will also introduce visitors to
– Black Hawk, the Sauk leader who refused to be driven away from the land where he grew up
– Oscar Micheaux, a farm boy who broke barriers for Black artists in Hollywood
– Michelle Obama, who started out in a Chicago bungalow and wound up in the White House
– Louisa Phifer, who ran a farm and raised seven children while her husband served in the Civil War.
“Here I Have Lived” features multiple people from Springfield, including a forward-thinking socialite, an immigrant friend of the Lincolns and a witness to the racial violence of 1908.
The exhibit runs through Jan. 21, 2024, in the museum’s Illinois Gallery, a space used for highlighting Illinois history as part of the ALPLM’s role as the state historical library.. The exhibit is free with regular museum admission.
“Illinois has welcomed refugees and entrepreneurs. It has produced artists and reformers. It offered a helping hand to some and a cold shoulder to others.
Every one of them had a different idea of what it meant to call Illinois their home,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “What better way to connect with people of the past, both famous and unknown, than by focusing on the very personal idea of home.”
The stories are told through photographs and rare artifacts. Visitors will see a photo locket carried by Mary Lincoln, a first edition of Black Hawk’s autobiography and Ronald Reagan’s college letterman sweater. They’ll also find a sculpture that was displayed in the Lincoln home, a table designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a Supreme Court ruling that changed the life of playwright Lorraine Hansberry.
Visitors will be able to listen to interviews with current Illinois residents about their thoughts on home. Questions throughout the exhibit will prompt visitors to think about what home means to them, and they’ll be able to share their answers at the end.
Among the Springfield people featured in the exhibit are socialite Susan Lawrence Dana, Portuguese dressmaker Ritta DeFreitas and attorney Charles Gibbs, whose office was at the starting point of the 1908 attacks on Springfield’s Black residents.
“Springfield’s history has so many layers that it was hard to narrow it down to just a handful of people for this exhibit,” Shutt said. “We think visitors will learn something new about familiar names and also learn some new names with fascinating stories.”
The exhibit takes its name from a phrase Lincoln used when saying farewell to the city of Springfield for the final time: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return …”
The exhibit is sponsored in part by Isringhausen Imports of Illinois.
The mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is to inspire civic engagement through the diverse lens of Illinois history and sharing with the world the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. We pursue this mission through a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship built on the bedrock of the ALPLM’s unparalleled collection of historical materials – roughly 13 million items from all eras of Illinois history.