SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today praised the overwhelming success of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum on its two-year anniversary. The museum has already welcomed more than 1 million visitors and the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which the Governor created by executive order in February of 2006, has begun planning for Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday in 2009.
“In just two years, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum has had tremendous success in boosting attention and interest in the Springfield area’s important role in American history,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “People from all over the world have come to Springfield to learn about our 16th President and see the highly acclaimed, state-of-the-art exhibits. I’m certain the next two years will be just as successful, and I’m looking forward to 2009 when we will all be celebrating Lincoln’s 200th birthday.”
As of Sunday, April 15th, 1,089,089 visitors have toured the ALPLM since its opening in April 2005. The Museum welcomed its 1 millionth visitor on January 6th – less than two years after opening to the public. Reaching the 1 millionth milestone in less than two years is believed to be the fastest paced record set by any presidential Museum. The museum continues to be a top destination for group tours and schools. Over 600 schools and 32 group tours are scheduled to tour the ALPLM in May.
“The success of the museum over the past two years would not have been possible without the time, energy and talents of the staff and volunteers. With their continued dedication and hard work, they will ensure the ALPLM will be a world class experience for years to come,” said Rick Beard, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM).
State plans are moving forward to celebrate the Lincoln Bicentennial in 2009. The Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is working closely with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, tourism agencies and many other institutions and organizations to organize events and programming beginning in 2008. The commission is also partnering with local communities on their bicentennial plans to develop a community involvement workshop to be held later in 2007.
A commission website is now active and a grant application process has been developed. The commission is targeting the following initiatives for funding: The Rural Program Initiative – targeting communities of 2,500 or less to assist in programmatic opportunities; The School Program Initiative – aiming to bring the bicentennial to the schools in Illinois; The Public Program Initiative – seeking to support educational programs presented by community organizations, colleges, universities, libraries, museums, and other cultural and educational institutions in Illinois; The Legacy Projects Initiative – intending to create visible public legacies of the bicentennial celebration including enhancements to existing public monuments or sites; and The Historic Sites Interpretation Initiative – designed to support the creation and preservation of live interpretative programs at Lincoln-related sites throughout Illinois. As planning progresses, information can be found on the Commission’s website at www.lincoln200.net
Upcoming events at the ALPLM include the new, blockbuster exhibition, Mary Todd Lincoln: First Lady of Controversy
, which runs April 28-October 28. This one-of-a-kind exhibit will reveal the many controversial aspects of who is perhaps the most controversial First Lady in American History. This exclusive exhibit can only be seen at the ALPLM and will include dozens of artifacts – many on display to the public for the first time. For more information, visit www.alplm.org.