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The Allen County Public Library will house the documents from Fort Wayne’s now-closed Lincoln Museum and the Indiana State Museum will display artifacts such as this statue formerly on display in the Fort Wayne museum.

Keeping Lincoln lore

The announcement that the coalition vying to keep treasures from the shuttered Lincoln Museum in Indiana won was indeed welcome news – a joyous announcement just in time for the holidays.

The decision from the Lincoln Financial Foundation to divide the museum’s $20 million collection between the Allen County Public Library and the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis is the best possible outcome. The foundation made a wise decision in allowing part of it to remain in the community that accumulated and safeguarded the collection for the last 77 years.

“It’s terrific news,” said Ian Rolland, retired chairman and CEO of Lincoln National and leader of the Indiana coalition, “It really shows that when we put our minds to something and all get on the same page, we can get things done and accomplish great things. We beat out excellent competition.”

Rolland said the library will get the 2-dimensional elements of the collection – the papers, books, documents, newspaper clippings, etc. – while the state museum will get the 3-dimensional artifacts.

One of the main reasons the Indiana proposal was chosen by the foundation was the public library’s ability to digitize the Lincoln documents, giving Lincoln scholars better online access to the historical papers. The books, documents and articles will nicely complement the library’s renowned genealogy department. The addition of the papers was obviously a natural fit.

Indiana won over eminent opponents, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Ford’s Theatre and President Lincoln’s Cottage.

Another reason the Indiana proposal was chosen was the decision from the Indiana coalition to acknowledge Lincoln National and the Lincoln Financial Foundation’s important role in supporting the now-closed Lincoln Museum and the collection. The Indiana State Museum is going to showcase much of the artifacts in the soon-to-be-created Lincoln Financial Foundation Gallery.

“The impression I get is that our proposal was significantly above the other proposals,” Rolland said.

The next step for the coalition is to raise about $8 million for an endowment to care for the collection to ensure future generations of Hoosiers will know the honor of having it in Indiana.

Rolland believes there should be a community event celebrating last week’s announcement. It’s certainly news worth celebrating – and the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth next year would be a fitting time to do so.

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