Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and his impact on the US constitution will be explored in a new exhibition set to open this weekend at the Heinz History Center. The traveling display will be augmented with a local twist. Visitors will see the History Center’s addition of a recreation of the hotel room where Lincoln slept in Pittsburgh on his way to his first inauguration. The bed, chamber pot, dresser and other items were saved when the Monongahela House was torn down in 1935. They were transferred to a museum in South Park. That museum closed during World War Two and the items were placed in storage. History center Executive Director Andy Masich says a fire destroyed a county building where they artifacts were believed to have been stored and everyone thought they were lost forever. All of the furniture was discovered by a maintenance work just a few years ago in a different county owned building as he was investigating a leaky roof. Blueprints of how the room was configured at the time of Lincoln’s visit were discovered in the drawer of the dresser. The traveling portion of the exhibit from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia investigates how Lincoln used the constitution during his presidency and how his actions and the war transformed our understanding of the document. The exhibit explores issues of state sovereignty, civil liberties and slavery. Visitors are asked if they think Lincoln went too far in his interpretation of the constitution including his decision to suspend the writ of habeas corpus… a topic being hotly contested today. The exhibit also includes a slew of photographs, two life masks and several interactive exhibits where visitors are asked to decide if Lincoln’s action as president were fair interpretations of the constitution. See more ictures and listen to a preview tour on our Facebook page.