Accolades for Abe

Lincoln bicentennial exhibitions, events and activities honoring the 16th President of the United States.


On Feb. 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born on Nolin Creek in Kentucky. Over the course of a life cut short by an assassin’s bullet, he would work his way to the highest office in the country, preserve a union and lay the groundwork for a new birth of freedom. Upon the bicentennial of his birth, across the country we celebrate the legacy of the man who has inspired generations. Below are a few highlights from the places Lincoln lived and worked; for a calendar of events throughout the year in every state, visit

Birthplace: Kentucky

This anniversary in the land of his birth begins a two-year celebration full of events. Kentucky’s signature Bicentennial exhibition, Beyond the Log Cabin: Kentucky’s Abraham Lincoln, takes a look at Lincoln through his connections with the state and its people. Unique artifacts, imagery and interactive features tell the story of the President’s relationship with his native state. A traveling exhibit, first at the Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, until June 6, 2009. Future locations include: The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, June 28 through Sept. 6, 2009; Highlands Museum & Discovery Center, Ashland, Oct. 2, 2009 through Feb. 19, 2010. for more information.

A new Lincoln statue by Kentucky sculptor Ed Hamilton will be unveiled at Louisville Waterfront Park on June 4, 2009. The large bronze figure will be the centerpiece for a new portion of the park with an additional four bas-relief sculptures with Lincoln and Civil War-related texts along a walkway from the waterfront to the main statue. Unveiling June 4, 2009, 8 p.m.; 129 E. River Rd., Louisville.

Land of Lincoln: Illinois

Lincoln moved to Illinois at age 22 to make a life for himself and left 30 years later upon his election as President of the United States. While he traveled throughout the state, the capital of Springfield was his home and where he developed into the leader honored this year. “To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing,” he said, “Here I have lived for a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man.”

To explore the city, follow the “Here I Have Lived” historical markers while on the “Mr. Lincoln’s Bicentennial Springfield Walk” from May 1 through Sept. 26. You’ll hear a collection of stories about the man before he was president, from his law practice to family life to his rapid ascent onto the national stage. In Springfield from May 1 through Sept. 26, 2009. Fri. and Sat. at 7 p.m. Admission: $12 adults; $8 children ages 11-17, free for children under 10 up to two children, then $5 per child; $10 senior and military. Tickets can be purchased at Tinsley Dry Goods, 209 S. 6th St. Tel. 217-502-8687.

At the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, the “Lincoln in Illinois” exhibit of Ron Schramm photographs combined with essays by Lincoln scholars examines all the Abraham Lincoln statues in Illinois. 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield. Tel. 217-558-8844. Exhibit runs from Feb. 11 through May, 2009. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission: $10 adults; $7 students, seniors and military; $4 children; free for children under 5. Ticket prices include admission to exhibit areas and theater presentations.

Farther north in Chicago, the Chicago History Museum presents the “Lincoln Treasures” exhibition commemorating the 16th president’s life. Included are the Museum’s prized artifacts including his pocket watch, desk and the bed in which he died. 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago. Tel. 312-642-4600. Exhibition begins Feb. 12, 2009. Hours: Mon. to Wed. 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Thurs. 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sun. 12 to 5 p.m. Admission: $14 adults with audio tours; $12 seniors and students with audio tours; free for children 12 and under.

For a calendar of events across the state, visit the Illinois Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Web site.

A New Birth of Freedom: Gettysburg

Abraham Lincoln was in Gettysburg, Pa., for only about 24 hours to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. In so doing, he gave a speech of a mere 10 sentences that, contrary to his belief, will be long remembered. The David Wills House in downtown Gettysburg, where President Lincoln stayed and finished writing the Gettysburg Address, celebrates its Grand Opening to the public from Feb. 12 to 16, 2009. Now a museum, among the six galleries are two rooms restored to their 1863 appearance: Wills’ office and the bedroom where Lincoln stayed. 8 Lincoln Square, Gettysburg. Tel. 866-486-5735. Hours: Dec. to Feb. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wed. through Sun.; March to May 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tues. through Sun.; June to Aug. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon. through Sun.; Sept. to Nov. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tues. through Sun. Admission: $6.50 adults (13 and up); $5.50 seniors; $4 youths (6 to 12); free for children under 5. or

If you’re heading to Gettysburg, consider also visiting Antietam, about 60 miles southwest in neighboring Maryland. Although its Lincoln Bicentennial events have passed, Antietam is the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War—23,000 died in one day—and led to Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

The 16th President: Washington, D.C.

In our nation’s capital, Living the Legacy: Lincoln in D.C. celebrates the bicentennial with more than 75 exhibitions, lectures, performances and special events dedicated to the 16th president’s time in office. The Ford’s Theatre reopening is a feature event; the site of his assassination on April 14, 1865, the recently restored and renovated theater hosts a number of performances, panels and tours to honor the president, including: “The Heavens Are Hung In Black,” a play about Lincoln, a free Monday-night lecture series (including “Lincoln as Humorist” with Conan O’Brien on March 2) and daily tours of the theater. 511 10th St., NW, Washington, D.C. Tel. 202-347-4833. Tours available daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except when the theater is closed for matinees and rehearsals. Visit for performance and tour ticket information.

Destinations: Illinois, Kentucky, Gettysburg, Washington

Themes: Historical Vacations

Activities: Arts and Entertainment, Museums

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