Last Easter, I got a tad overly enthuasiastic about Easter egg decoration, so this year I saved my geeky freak out for something truly deserving: The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, IL.
If you’ve been to many a museum, as I have, you know the difference between a museum that fosters conversation, presents controversial history maturely, appeals to different learning styles, and makes academic content seem fresh and exciting, and a museum that is essentially a bunch of laminated post-it notes. This museum was most definitely the former.
Take a minute and guess how many people died in the Civil War, both sides combined. Perhaps this figure was imprinted on your brain in elementary school, but I missed the boat on the sheer magnitude of death. My guess would have been about 200,000 (which seems astronomically high). The actual tally is about 1.3 million. MILLION. And to make that number stick in your heart and not just your head, you sit on a bench and watch a four minute play-by-play as the body count climbs into six, then seven digits. It’s brutal, but effective.
To understand the election of 1860, the late Tim Russert explains the four candidates and their platforms in contemporary terms. There are even faux campaign ads.
And the wax figurines! Creepy? A bit, but also amazing! Some photos to capture the trip:
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