Reagan Library’s former Lincoln Exhibit

Reagan Library Lincoln Exhibit catalog

From June through September of 2013, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California hosted an exhibit entitled, “A. Lincoln: Railsplitter to Rushmore“. The exhibit showcased a multitude of objects borrowed from the collections of private individuals; institutions like the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Library of Congress, Smithsonian, and Ford’s Theatre; and even the production designers of Dreamworks Pictures who produced Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Over 250 unique artifacts relating to Lincoln’s life and presidency were on display along with sets from the Lincoln movie like this one of Lincoln’s office:

Lincoln Office Set Regan Library 2013

Appropriately, one room of the exhibition was devoted to the assassination and death of Abraham Lincoln.  Here is a nice panorama of the exhibit room showing the recreated bedroom of the Petersen House, a mock up of the Ford’s Theatre box, and a replica of President Lincoln’s casket:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Here is a slideshow which further highlights the artifacts and displays from the assassination gallery:

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A few of the artifacts that were on display came from the Ford’s Theatre collection.  These included a Confederate cipher machine, a ticket to Ford’s Theatre, a key to a cell that imprisoned on of the Lincoln conspirators, and some funerary items.  One of Ford’s Theatre most iconic items was also loaned to the Reagan Library for the exhibit; a blood stained pillow from the death chamber of the President.

Petersen bedroom Assassination Exhibit Reagan Library

The Reagan Library’s recreation of the death chamber of Abraham Lincoln in the Petersen House. An authentic blood stained pillow from that night can be seen in a display to the left.

These images, sent to me by Carolyn Mitchell of the Spirits of Tudor Hall, show the blood stained pillow further:

Blood stained pillow Mitchell 1

Blood stained pillow Mitchell 2

Under this lighting, it’s hard to see the actual blood stains on the pillow.  The obvious dark splotches are not blood stains but ink stains that occurred long after Lincoln’s death and before modern artifact preservation techniques.  For many years, this pillow was on display at the Petersen House in Washington, D.C.  Today, however, the artifact is too fragile to be on display without a climate controlled display as seen here.  I’ve been told by a National Park Service employee that the pillow is so delicate that you could poke your finger straight through the pillow with ease.  Another, less fragile, pillow from Lincoln’s deathbed is on display in the basement museum of Ford’s Theatre.

References:
Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library
A. Lincoln: Railsplitter to Rushmore Exhibit Catalog
Ford’s Theatre NPS
A huge belated thank you to Carolyn Mitchell who visited the exhibit and sent me photographs and a copy of the exhibit catalog.  You’re the best, Carolyn!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Reagan Library’s former Lincoln Exhibit

  1. Rich smyth

    Thank you Carolyn & Dave! What is in the little box below Ms. Keene’s picture? And to the left of that? A piece of Mary’s dress from April 14th?

    • Rich,

      I honestly don’t know what is in the little box underneath Laura Keene. Perhaps Carolyn will remember but it was almost a year ago since she visited the exhibit.

      The swatch to the left of her is, indeed, a piece of Mary Lincoln’s dress.

  2. Richard Sloan

    I think the item just beneath the pic of Laura is one of Miss Keene’s bloodstain cuffs

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