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What Will Be the Fate of Lincoln Artifacts Removed from ALPLM?

By Wendy Swanson

Washington, D.C.

Friday, November 4, 2022

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum announced that a collection of over 1,500 Lincoln artifacts was removed from the building this past Monday. Among the items were some related to the Lincoln assassination – Mary Todd Lincoln’s blood-stained fan, Lincoln’s bloody gloves – but also the “sum” book Abe used as a youngster.

The items were part of what is known as the Taper Collection, originally owned by historian-collector Louise Taper. Fifteen years ago, the Lincoln Presidential Foundation purchased the items for more than twenty million dollars. What apparently triggered the foundation’s action to remove the artifacts from the museum was the expiration of a loan agreement between the museum and the foundation. The two entities are at odds over the remaining debt from the purchase of the collection. And the foundation decided to "pull" the collection from the museum.

The removal of the artifacts represents the latest in what has been a rocky relationship between the museum and the foundation, originally established to fundraise and acquire Lincoln pieces for the museum. Issues concerning financial matters as well as conflicts over the two organizations' respective roles negatively impacted the relationship. As a result, the ALPLM split with the foundation in 2021.

Museum spokesman, Chris Wells, admitted “we have nothing from the Taper Collection still here.” The company that transported the items from the museum was a Chicago-based auction house. The museum lacked knowledge of where the items would be stored or when/if they would be accessible to the public.

A foundation spokesman said there has been no “next steps” yet decided regarding the fate of the items. Rather, the foundation’s goals stated goals are to “pay off the remaining debt and to do what can be done to ensure the collection remains available to the public in future years."

Stay tuned; this story is not over yet.

Illinois Times and WBEZ articles provided information used in this write-up.

(Photo credit: ALPLM)

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