Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Abe, for the People

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Abe, for the People

Article excerpt

The new presidential museum for Abraham Lincoln just opened Tuesday and it already has a couple of nicknames: "Six Flags Over Lincoln" and "Abe World."

The wisecracks reflect some dissatisfaction with the museum - 140 years overdue - for its entertainment approach to history. In the Springfield, Ill., building, holographic images bring Lincoln's time vividly to life in one of the theaters, while in another, seats shake and lights flash in a Civil War rendition.

Likewise, some critics are unhappy with the museum's simplification of history - omitting, paraphrasing, or inventing audible quotes, for instance. "The problem is that some of the museum is history and some of it is not," a New York Times cultural critic noted.

The complaints miss the mark by a country mile. Museum officials rightly observe that they must appeal to today's TiVo and iPod generation, visually and virtually oriented and moving at supersonic speed.

A museum like this, which was vetted by Lincoln scholars, is far more likely to excite young people about the man who saved the Union and freed the slaves than corridors of glass cases would. …

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