UPDATE: State Museum lands huge Lincoln collection

December 12, 2008
The world's largest private collection of Lincoln memorabilia - including signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and Thirteenth Amendment - will be housed at the Indiana State Museum.

The collection, valued at $20 million, has been housed in Fort Wayne by Lincoln Financial Foundation, and is being donated to a consortium of Indiana groups led by the State Museum.

Announcing the move this morning were the state museum and foundation.

The gift has been in the works since summer, when the foundation announced it would close its 77-year-old museum in Fort Wayne because of poor attendance. The foundation is the charitable arm of Philadelphia-based Lincoln Financial Group, which moved its headquarters out of Fort Wayne in 1999.

The Indiana consortium beat out several other big-name institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, which was part of a Washington, D.C., consortium, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., which led an Illinois group.

"It was well-earned by the excellent team that represented us all," Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a statement. "Indiana pledges the most exquisite care and widest possible public availability of these priceless pieces of our history."

Abraham Lincoln spent most of his early years in Indiana.

The Indiana consortium includes Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, the Indiana Historical Society, Indiana State Library and Friends of the Lincoln Museum. Daniels' office also worked on the winning bid.

New board members of Friends of the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne will be chosen to raise an $8 million endowment for care of the collection, said Annette Moser, spokeswoman for Lincoln Financial Group. They also will continue helping with educational programming and bringing in Lincoln scholars.

Most of the printed documents will stay in Fort Wayne, but the two crowd-pleasers - the Emancipation Proclamation and Thirteenth Amendment - will be on display downtown at the State Museum in White River State Park. The Emancipation Proclamation is one of about 20 original copies signed by Lincoln and William Seward. The 13th Amendment is one of 13 existing copies.

Museum spokeswoman Kathi Moore said many of the three-dimensional objects will be displayed on a rotating basis.

Here's a run-down on the collection, which touches on Lincoln's presidential and personal life: 7,000 19th Century prints; 5,000 original 19th Century photographs; 350 documents signed by Lincoln; 18,000 rare books and pamphlets; 200,000 newspapers and magazine clippings; 350 19th Century sheet music titles.

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