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“198-years-old? You don’t look a day over 195!”

The Lincoln Museum has a busy month planned for Lincoln’s birthday

By Michael Summers

michael_summers@fortwaynereader.com

Fort Wayne Reader

2007-02-06


One of the first things visitors see when they walk through the exhibit at the Lincoln Museum in downtown Fort Wayne is an image of the capitol dome in Washington D.C. as it was when Abraham Lincoln began his term as the 16th president of the United States. An ambitious new project to replace the Capitol’s first dome had begun in the mid 1850s, though by the time Lincoln took office, it was still unfinished. But as visitors leave the exhibit at the Lincoln Museum, there’s another image, this one of the completed dome.

To Mary Clements, public relations and marketing manager at the Lincoln Museum, those two dramatic images speak volumes about Lincoln’s vision and why, nearly 150 years later, his presidency and the times in which he lived still continue to hold such a grip on the country’s imagination. “He never let go of the fact that there was a need to preserve the union, to preserve the United States,” Clements says.

The Lincoln Museum has a full itinerary lined up for February, all centered around Lincoln’s 198th birthday celebration on Sunday, February 11. That day features actors Fred and Bonnie Priebe portraying Abraham and Mary Lincoln in two short plays — “Douglas, Duels and Dancing,” and “Mr. Lincoln, You are Such a Caution!” — followed by a question and answer session. The Priebes are from the Chicago area and have been performing as Abraham and Mary Lincoln for years, earning a reputation as two of the best “Lincoln presenters” out there. “They don’t leave character when they’re in costume and so when the kids and other people come up and ask questions, they’ll respond as Abe and Mary would have,” says Clements.

Also on hand February 11 is the Fort Wayne area’s own 30th Indiana volunteer infantry — Civil War re-enactors with authentic era costumes and gear.

The special events continue on Monday February 12. Local author Naida Kirkpatrick will read from her children’s book Adventure at Lookout Farm. Kirkpatrick’s involvement with the museum and the Lincoln’s birthday events is a happy coincidence. “Naida is a docent,” Clements says. “She leads tours at the museum. She’s done it for years, and one day, she says ‘oh, I write children’s books.’ We had no idea!” Clement says that Adventure at Lookout Farm is a particularly good tie-in with Lincoln’s birthday; it’s about a family who discover that their farm was once a part of the Underground Railroad.

Another distinguished author visits the Lincoln Museum on Presidents Day, February 19 (which also happens to be the last day of the Lincoln Museum’s current exhibit, the Lincoln Family Album). Dr. Douglas Wilson, one of the nation’s foremost Lincoln scholars, will visit the museum to talk about his book Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words, which examines how Lincoln’s literary skills made him a more effective President. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin — who is certainly no slouch when it comes to all things historical and presidential — called Lincoln’s Sword “so good that it will shape Lincoln scholarship for generations.” The co-director of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College, Douglas won the 1999 Lincoln Prize for his previous book Honor’s Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln. He’ll sign copies of Lincoln’s Sword after the presentation (if you cannot attend the program, contact The Museum Store to order a signed copy of the Wilson book).

Finally, the Lincoln Museum is hosting an “Antiques Appraisal Fair” as a fundraiser on Sunday, February 25. Four antique appraisers will be on hand — Sally Boose is an International Society of Appraisers accredited appraiser; Judie Silvers, a local antique dealer who specializes in glass as well as general antiques; Betty Landolfi, a general appraiser, from “Betty’s Antiques” on Broadway; and Becky Yager, also from “Betty’s,” who specializes in dolls.

Coming up in March is a temporary, traveling exhibit called Bleeding Blue and Gray: Civil War Medicine, which promises to be… well, a little gruesome, quite frankly, but still pretty interesting.

Of course, this February is Lincoln’s 198th birthday. Lincoln’s bicentennial is approaching rapidly, and it takes no extraordinary deduction skills to figure out that Lincoln buffs (and fans of U.S. history in general) are probably planning some pretty interesting things to mark the occasion. “There are things planned on the national level,” says Mary Clements. “Fort Wayne will be participating on a grass-roots manner. It’ll be a theme for the Three Rivers Festival parade in 2009. The Art Museum will be doing something, the Cinema Center… it’s all in the preliminary planning stages.”

The Lincoln Museum
200 East Berry
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
(260) 455-3864

Abraham Lincoln’s 198th Birthday Celebration
Fred and Bonnie Priebe and the 30th Indiana volunteer infantry
Sunday, February 11, 2007
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Admission free for Lincoln Museum members. General admission: $4.99; Seniors: $3.99; Children: $3.99.

Children’s author Naida Kirkpatrick
Monday, February 12, 2007
10:30 a.m. AND 2 p.m.
Admission free for museum members. General admission $4.99. Children $3.99.
Seniors $3.99.

Presidents Day
Douglas Wilson, author of Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words
Monday, February 19, 2007 — 7 p.m.
Admission free for museum members. General admission: $4.99. Seniors: $3.99.

The Lincoln Museum “Antiques Appraisal Fair”
Sunday, February 25, 2007, from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Guests admission: $4.99; Participant admission: $8 to evaluate one item, $12 to evaluate two items and $15 for three evaluations. Limit three items. You must be able to carry in your items. No firearms, old books or letters. Verbal appraisals only-NOT for insurance purposes. No Abraham Lincoln items.

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