SPRINGFIELD – The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum dedicated a new sculpture Wednesday that honors the 16th president’s inspirational words and strong values. The “Beacon of Endurance” will stand as a new symbol of President Lincoln’s impact on America yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The Beacon is an obelisk almost 25 feet tall. A bottom section features some of Lincoln’s most powerful quotations. The top two-thirds are emblazoned with words describing Lincoln and his legacy, such as “unity,” “honor” and “hope.” These words will be lit up at night, and some will be projected onto the museum’s east wall.
“We hope this sculpture will serve as a literal beacon, guiding people to Abraham Lincoln and his vision of a better America,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Gary Johnson, chairman of the ALPLM Board of Trustees, said: “This sculpture should inspire reflection and discussion about President Lincoln for many years to come. Public art can be a powerful tool for encouraging people to think about shared values and where the nation is headed.”
The $223,000 project is made possible by the Illinois Capital Development Board’s Art-in-Architecture program. The board reserves one-half of one percent of the cost of state building and renovation projects to purchase public art. Since its inception in 1977, it has purchased or commissioned nearly 1,000 works by Illinois artists.
“The Capital Development Board is pleased to have partnered with the library and museum to commission Beacon of Endurance. It is another shining example of support for the arts in Illinois,” said Capital Development Board Executive Director Jim Underwood.
The Beacon stands at the northwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Seventh Street in Springfield.
It was designed by BJ Krivanek and Joel Breaux of the Chicago firm Krivanek+Breaux/Art+Design. The sculpture is 24 feet, 10 inches tall.
The bottom, where Lincoln quotes are inscribed, will weather and rust over time. The sculpture includes Lincoln’s appeal to “the better angels of our nature,” his condemnation of the secession movement as “the essence of anarchy” and his declaration that, “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.”
Above that, in impervious stainless steel, are individual words about Lincoln’s character and principles. They include “emancipation,” “civil rights” and “progress.” They will be visible night and day. But other words, such as “dream,” “hope” and “protest,” will appear only at night, when they are projected onto the museum.
“This inscribed obelisk form is slightly off kilter, to suggest democratic vulnerabilities. Its materiality bridges from the base of Industrial Age rusted steel rooted in the land, to the Space Age stainless steel of its upper form reaching skyward,” said Krivanek, artist and Professor Emeritus of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “At night, the artform will transform through illumination and the ephemeral projection of societal ideals and issues onto the museum walls, to become the afterlife of Lincoln’s totemic cultural significance.”
The mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is to inspire civic engagement through the diverse lens of Illinois history and sharing with the world the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. We pursue this mission through a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship built on the bedrock of the ALPLM’s unparalleled collection of historical materials – roughly 13 million items from all eras of Illinois history.
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