Curatorial Statement

Reflecting on his life in Springfield, President-elect Abraham Lincoln departed for his trip to Washington D. C. with
bittersweet notes,

“To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried.”

In this simple and eloquent statement, Lincoln exposed a profound understanding that home is more than a structure. It is a sense of self, shaped by the land and the community. Lincoln recognized that his experiences of life in Springfield and Illinois would influence the path he was about to lead during one of our nation’s most challenging periods.

For centuries the land that has become Illinois has been home. Here our region’s earliest indigenous residents built powerful, lasting communities. And for generations afterward, though immigration, migration, and settler colonialism, Illinoisans have changed the world . . . by starting at home.

Through their stories and objects, we invite you to explore our shared roots and what it means to truly find a place of belonging.

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