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Coalition readying pitch to keep Lincoln collection


A coalition of concerned citizens and non-profit groups is expected to announce today it has a plan to keep the Lincoln Museum’s $20 million collection in Indiana.

The proposal – put together by representatives of the Allen County Public Library, Friends of the Lincoln Museum and the Indiana State Museum, among others – will be submitted to the Lincoln Financial Foundation by June 16.

Citing declining attendance, the museum announced earlier this year it will close at the end of this month.

Ian Rolland, former chief executive officer of Lincoln National Corp., said the group has been careful to reveal few details of its proposal because it expects stiff competition for the collection.

Representatives from 35 organizations from across the country attended an informational meeting in April at Lincoln headquarters in Philadelphia, where Lincoln Financial Foundation, the charitable arm of Lincoln Financial Group, explained the process for choosing a new home for the collection.

After proposals are submitted to the foundation by June 16, the foundation expects to narrow the field to three organizations by August or September and visit those organizations late this year, a foundation representative said in April.

The foundation will judge how the bidders plan to provide broad access to the collection, where it will be stored and whether it has the financial resources to care for the collection.

A new home will be chosen in early 2009 based on the proposals and site visits, the foundation said.

The Allen County Public Library has expressed interest in being keeper of the museum’s documents, including one of the original copies of the 13th Amendment and a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The local group’s proposal, first reported online Monday by the Indiana Policy Review, contains contributions from the Fort Wayne mayor’s office, the Indiana governor’s office, the State Library, the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, Rolland said.

“We’ve had a broad array of people working on the proposal,” he said.

“It’s been really gratifying to see people across the state come together to make this happen.”