Newly elected President Abraham Lincoln sat for more than an hour with plaster drying on his face, to create a life mask that then was used to fashion statues of the imposing man. Five years later, in 1865, he sat for another life mask - and the difference in his features is remarkable, showing him horribly aged by the Civil War.
A look that intimate at the 16th president - who during those years also established Idaho Territory - isn't easy to come by, but thanks to a major donation to the state of Idaho by former Idaho Attorney General and Lt. Gov. David Leroy and his wife, Nancy, it's part of a unique collection documenting Lincoln and his ties to Idaho that will go on display to the public in a specially designed gallery next year. The new gallery will open during the celebration of the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the creation of Idaho Territory; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Janet Gallimore, director of the Idaho State Historical Society, says she gets “goose bumps” thinking about what's in store. “David's collection is the finest collection of Lincoln material in the Intermountain West,” she said. “I'm just so excited that we will be acquiring this fabulous collection for the public. A great amount of Lincoln's significance for Idaho is going to be presented to the public for the first time in an exhibition venue.”
The new Lincoln Legacy Collection and Exhibition will be installed at the Idaho State Archives, a light-filled structure that stands just down the road in Boise from the historic Old Idaho Penitentiary, which was in use in territorial times. The archives now function mostly as a research facility; the new Lincoln gallery will be its first permanent exhibit open to the public, and is expected to draw busloads of schoolkids and other visitors.