ALPLM lands $250,000 grant for exhibit to help children explore citizenship


The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has been awarded a $250,000 grant for a project to teach children about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

The funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services will pay about half the cost of “Citizen City,” an interactive exhibit that will explore the idea that citizenship is a verb and requires action.

“This generous grant endorses the importance of teaching civic engagement to the next generation,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “We want to ensure our young visitors understand their power to improve the community and the larger world.”

“Abraham Lincoln played a vital role in expanding America’s definition of ‘citizen.’ What better place to explore that concept than in a museum dedicated to his legacy?” Shutt added.

Citizen City will occupy the space formerly used by the “Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic” play area, which closed due to safety concerns during the coronavirus epidemic. Since the closure, ALPLM staff have been exploring replacement options and pursuing funds to build a new exhibit that will both educate and energize young visitors. Inspiring civic engagement is part of the ALPLM’s mission.

Citizen City will let visitors step into the many roles of citizen by debating, advocating, voting and more. Children will see they are citizens of multiple communities at once, learn how Illinois youth have made beneficial and lasting changes in their communities, and examine citizenship through Lincoln’s legacy.

The concept was developed in consultation with the Illinois State Board of Education. The goal is to make civic engagement fun while also educating children – as well as the adults with them.

The project, which will be designed by Exhibit Concepts of Dayton, Ohio, is expected to cost $500,000. With this new grant and a private donation, the ALPLM has raised $350,000 of the money needed to launch “Citizen City.”

For information on supporting the initiative, contact

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. It advances, supports, and empowers America's museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage.

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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