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February 8, 2013

State Museum's Lincoln exhibit opens Feb. 9

INDIANAPOLIS — When President Abraham Lincoln is mentioned in Hollywood circles, it's all about the 12 Oscar nominations of the film about him. At the Indiana State Museum, however, the Lincoln buzz is all about its newest exhibition: "The Lincolns: Five Generations of an American Family," which premieres today.

The Indiana State Museum is the only venue for this exhibition that will run through Aug. 4.

Visitors through March 2 can also view a rare copy of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which ended slavery, and a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Because the fragile documents cannot be exposed to light for long periods of time, they are rarely on display.

The 13th Amendment, of course, was the focus of the Steven Spielberg-directed movie that details the 16th president's tumultuous final months in office. The Indiana State Museum exhibition, however, spans five generations of the Lincolns, who first came to Indiana in 1816. The museum wanted to offer a different, more personal perspective, said Dale Ogden, senior curator of cultural history.

"There is no one person more mythologized than Abraham Lincoln," Ogden said. "This exhibition will help break some of the myths, while also giving visitors a greater understanding of the very complex Lincoln family throughout five generations."

More than 150 objects will be on display, including handwritten letters, photographs, Tiffany jewelry, candelabra, and other family keepsakes. The Indiana State Museum has one of the world's most important collections of Lincoln artifacts - The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection - given to the State of Indiana in 2008. Objects from this collection will be joined by about 40 artifacts on loan from several of America's leading historical institutions.

Highlights of The Lincolns: Five Generations of an American Family include:

- The Sum Book. With less than two years of formal schooling, at age 15 Lincoln carefully assembled sheets of paper and created his own book on which to practice math problems. Over the years, the pages were separated, but the Indiana State Museum has five pages on display. It is the largest grouping ever shown in one place.

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