District prepares artifacts for 2009 Lincoln bicentennial

Beginning this month, the District will mark the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth with a yearlong schedule of remembrance titled “Living the Legacy: Lincoln in Washington D.C.”

To honor the 16th president of the United States, who was born Feb. 12, 1809, a trove of historic Lincoln artifacts and personal presidential treasures are being readied for more than 75 exhibits, events, lectures and performances planned for the celebration of Lincoln’s bicentennial.

The Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of American History, as well as the Library of Congress, all plan to take part in the birthday festivities, which have been in the planning stages for at least two years, said Matt Raymond, director of communications for the Library of Congress.

“It’s an unparalleled opportunity to bring to a modern audience how important Lincoln was as a president, as a man who preserved a union and whose legacy lives on today,” Raymond said.

The library’s exhibit, “With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition,” which opens in February, will feature many historic documents, including Lincoln’s presidential papers, his inaugural addresses and a copy of his famed Gettysburg Address.

The Portrait Gallery’s exhibition, “One Life: The Mask of Lincoln,” opened Nov. 7 and captures Lincoln’s life through a series of presidential portraits. The Smithsonian Museum of American History, after it reopens later this month, will display the White House copy of the Gettysburg Address.

The National Portrait Gallery will also pay tribute to Lincoln’s second inaugural ball – which was held there – by recreating the ball on Jan. 31. The museum has a small exhibition featuring recreations of the invitation and menu as well as an original jacket worn by a guest.

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