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“More Cheap, Plastic Thrills than Honest Abe. Rude staff!”

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Ranked #1 of 58 things to do in Springfield
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: In a stunning combination of scholarship and showmanship, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum immerses you in Lincoln's world and time. Journey from a rustic Indiana cabin to the Executive Mansion in the nation's capitol; follow the fate of America's 16th president and share the joys and sorrows of a family - and a nation.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
New Lenox, IL
Level Contributor
26 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“More Cheap, Plastic Thrills than Honest Abe. Rude staff!”
Reviewed July 14, 2009

As a History teacher who has visited many (most) of the actual Lincoln sites, I was appalled at the shallow "Lincoln Presidential Museum" in Springfield. There are much better and more authentic sights all around Springfield - New Salem is excellent and Lincoln's Home and Tomb are both very educational and interesting destinations. The "Lincoln Presidential museum" is a real embarrassment to actual history students, with a plastic cabin to represent Lincoln's early years and animatronic style shows with ridiculous special effects including choking smoke, thumping, military music soundtracks and vibrating seats. The Ghost in the Library script is slick but pandering. It's also confusing, with its shift from historian to battlefield soldier. Don't go in the "Theatre" show if you have the beginnings of a headache (no warnings given until you are already seated). Overall, I found the museum slick, but nor especially truthful or well done. My spouse and I agreed it was Disneyland in Illinois, even before reading these reviews.

Museum rules are somewhat vague and inconsistent, so, read over the card they hand you before you pay. (See the posting by the visitor who had to delete his pictures.) After I had paid and passed by four representatives, I was told I had to go back to the entrance and put my small backpack purse containing my medicine and water to swallow it in a medical supplies bag! When I put the bag in their sizing cubby, they pulled it upright and fluffed it until it stood over the top by a few inches! They told me there was no customer onsite service rep, when she was standing twenty feet away! My husband and I counted at least ten larger bags in the museum, including one child and one adult wearing a backpack. All they had to do was ask me to put the water bottle inside the bag and carry it at my side, but instead they ruined my visit.

The exhibit signs are small and placed so that only one or two people can read them (while blocking the sign and artifact), so the crowd moves at a snail''s pace. While there are a very few actual artifacts related to Lincoln, you can see more elsewhere. The section on the Washington gossip around Mary Todd was one dimensional and sensationalist, not exploring her Confederate family officers at all. (Look it up, as the exhibit designers should have!)

If you want to be entertained, this is an OK place. If you expect actual history and a respectful staff, look elsewhwere. I would heartily recommend actual Lincoln sites such as the National Historic Sites in Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana which are not made of plastic. Docents have more freedom to answer questions and even the recreations offer more authenticity. This is a ridiculous, cheap. Disneyesque version which totally subverts and cheapens everything Abraham Lincoln stood for throughout his life!!!

8 Thank versavendre
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,447 reviews from our community

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Cypress, CA
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed July 6, 2009

What an amazing collection, so very well displayed and preserved. Our family, complete with two boys, ages 10 & 12, thoroughly enjoyed the collection. We allowed ourselves around three hours to tour the museum and that included the well-stocked gift shop. The displays suck you right back to Lincoln's time and really give you a strong dose of history. The two movies are well done, engaging, and enjoyable. Our favorite of the two were The Eyes of Lincoln. I enjoyed how the movies and collection reminded citizens that Lincoln did not have an easy time as president. He met a lot of opposition and was strongly criticized before he was called a hero. I wouldn't recommend this museum for tiny tots; there were a few too many strollers and a some crying babies that ruined the ambiance of some of the exhibits. There is a special room for younger children dress up in period clothes, play games, and look at child-appropriate artifacts, but my kids felt way too old for that. We also raced over to see the Lincoln Tomb right before it closed at 5:00. Ask the assistant in the lobby for a sheet of specific walking or driving directions to other Lincoln attractions. This stop on our road trip was worth every second!

Thank SmithFamFour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Entertaining and informative”
Reviewed June 28, 2009

While driving from St. Louis to Milwaukee today, my family and I stopped in Springfield for two hours to visit the Abraham Lincoln Museum. I'm so glad that we did! The exhibits feel like you are actually a part of the scene, rather than just an observer. I learned new facts about Lincoln, and was entertained as well. My 10-year-old daughter didn't want to leave! Highly recommend!

1 Thank Milwaukee_Mom_1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
62 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed June 27, 2009

My family visited the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL and it was amazing! Great displays of writings, cartoons, historical objects, life size re-creations of cabin, Ford Theater, etc. Great mini-shows as you walk around. Do not miss the Holovision show (9 minutes). Excellent. Great gift shop with everything you could want about Lincoln, his family, their friends, Civil War spys, etc.

Last entry is at 4pm. Closes at 5pm and the sidewalks roll up then! However lots of historical places to walk to in the area. We stayed at Hilton. Nothing spectacular there. They did have an Abraham Lincoln Hotel across the street that looked more modern I would check that out. Subway sandwich shop was yummy and budget perfect!

1 Thank Californiafamilypv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
36 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Unique and Worth Your Time”
Reviewed June 15, 2009

A very unique museum that's definately worth a two hour diversion if you are in the Springfield area. Great theater presentations and interesting artifacts. Kids and adults will like it even if you aren't a Lincoln fan. Underground public parking available directly across the street from museum at a reasonable rate.

1 Thank marcs73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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