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Lincoln on wheels

HistoryMobile rolls across the state
to celebrate Lincoln history

Complete access to the traveling exhibit is free

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(February 2008) – When a 45-foot semi-trailer pulls into town with a larger-than-life blazing image of Abraham Lincoln on the side, people take notice. The Kentucky Historical Society’s HistoryMobile will traverse the state for the next two years with an exhibit titled, “Kentucky’s Abraham Lincoln.”

HistoryMobile Truck

Photo provided

The HistoryMobile has presented
hands-on exhibits about Abraham
Lincoln to at least 1 million
Kentuckians since 1973.

The exhibit will debut on Feb. 12 during official kickoff ceremonies for the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Ky. Free and open to the public, this inaugural program begins at 10:30 a.m., with the site opening up at 7 a.m. Public parking and bus transportation will be available.
Each HistoryMobile exhibit is created “by a team of research historians and museum curators who serve on the staff of the Kentucky Historical Society,” said Stuart Sanders, Community Services Administrator for the Kentucky Historical Society and Assistant to the Director for the Lincoln Bicentennial.
“Kentucky’s Abraham Lincoln” will “provide an excellent overview of Lincoln’s Kentucky connections and will highlight many of Kentucky’s important Lincoln sites,” said Sanders, who is also a Civil War Heritage Specialist for the Kentucky Historical Society. Depending upon the exhibits’ popularity, “Kentucky’s Abraham Lincoln” may remain in the HistoryMobile longer than the usual two year run before being replaced by another exhibit.
The Kentucky Historical Society is sponsoring this 300-square-foot exhibit that explores Lincoln’s frontier childhood, his career as a lawyer, rise to the White House, and his struggles to end slavery and guide the United States through the turbulent Civil War. The exhibit contains artifacts, audio, video and interactive elements.

HistoryMobile tour stops:

• Feb. 12: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, Hodgenville
• Feb. 14: 10 a.m.: Capitol Rotunda, Frankfort
• Feb. 20: Highlands Museum, Ashland
• Feb. 22: National Quilt Museum, Paducah
• Feb. 27: Lexington Public Library, Lexington
• Feb. 28: Northern Kentucky University (Tentative)
• Feb. 29: 10 a.m.: Frazier International History Museum, Louisville

All of the artifacts in the HistoryMobile exhibit are reproductions. “Our real artifacts usually aren’t used in traveling exhibits,” said Sanders. Instead, a special-use collection is presented in the traveling exhibits, one that “allows for hands-on learning.”
“The HistoryMobile is an excellent way to get schools involved,” said Lisa Cleveland, Public Relations and Marketing Director for the Kentucky Historical Society and spokesperson for the Kentucky Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration.
Traveling the Commonwealth from border to border, the HistoryMobile has presented exhibits since 1973 to at least 1 million Kentuckians. Presentations have been given at schools, fairs, festivals, libraries, parks, and community centers and it is a regular at the Kentucky State Fair each year.
“The HistoryMobile is a wonderful way to engage students who cannot travel to one of Kentucky’s Lincoln sites,” Sanders said.
The HistoryMobile is accessible to people with mobility disabilities. There is no cost to book the HistoryMobile, and no charge to the public for going through it. The Lincoln exhibit is made possible through a grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation, said Sanders.
Even though other states such as Indiana and Illinois are hosting Lincoln bicentennial events, the HistoryMobile will remain in Kentucky through early 2009. Sanders said the possibility exists for the HistoryMobile to travel to southern Indiana if any sites express an interest in hosting the exhibit.

• Pre-visit classroom materials on the Lincoln exhibit will be available upon request for teachers. For more information or to schedule a HistoryMobile stop contact David Whealdon, HistoryMobile program coordinator at (502) 564-1792, ext. 4503.

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