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updated: 1/19/2014 7:28 AM

History meets Hollywood in new 'Lincoln' exhibit

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  • A new exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln museum in Springfield includes this office set used in the 2012 film "Lincoln."

      A new exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln museum in Springfield includes this office set used in the 2012 film "Lincoln."

  • The exhibit includes dresses worn by Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.

      The exhibit includes dresses worn by Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.
    Photo courtesy Abraham Lincoln Presidential Librar

  • Prop documents from the film were made to look authentic.

      Prop documents from the film were made to look authentic.

  • A photo appeared in the recreation of the president's office in the film "Lincoln." It's one of many props on display in Springfield.

      A photo appeared in the recreation of the president's office in the film "Lincoln." It's one of many props on display in Springfield.
    Photo courtesy Abraham Lincoln Presidential Librar

  • A figurine is one of many props on display from the movie "Lincoln."

      A figurine is one of many props on display from the movie "Lincoln."
    Photo courtesy Abraham Lincoln Presidential Librar

  • Prop documents are made to look authentic for the film "Lincoln."

      Prop documents are made to look authentic for the film "Lincoln."
    photos courtesy of Abraham Lincoln Presidential Li

  • The exhibit includes dresses worn by Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.

      The exhibit includes dresses worn by Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.
    Photo courtesy Abraham Lincoln Presidential Librar

  • Props from the 2012 movie "Lincoln," starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, are now on display in Springfield.

      Props from the 2012 movie "Lincoln," starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, are now on display in Springfield.

  • Props from the 2012 movie "Lincoln," starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, are on display in Springfield.

      Props from the 2012 movie "Lincoln," starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, are on display in Springfield.

  • Video: See a clip from "Lincoln"

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- In being reasonably accurate portrayals of genuine artifacts from the time, props from the film "Lincoln" have become artifacts of sorts themselves, now on display in Springfield.

A historic train station across the street from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield houses a set, costumes and props from the 2012 film.

The point of the new exhibit, officials say, is to give a sense of how Hollywood translates real history into a story fit for the big screen.

"It's a really good movie from a historical point of view," museum curator James Cornelius said. "But the main thing to emphasize is that all films are fiction."

The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, garnered a number of Oscar nominations, and star Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for his portrayal of the 16th president.

The display includes three dresses worn by Sally Field in her role as Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as the vanity she used in her bedroom and the window treatments.

The main attraction is the set of Lincoln's office, where some of the movie's most dramatic moments take place. All the props on the set were used in the movie, and the office was designed based on research the filmmakers did in Springfield.

Its arrival at the museum brings it full circle, and spokesman Chris Wills said the addition of some pop-culture interest to the eight-year-old museum could help lure people in to learn more about the real Lincoln.

"There, it's fact," Wills said pointing to the museum. "Here, it's fact versus fiction."

Two videos also will be available, showing clips from the movie and information about it.

Wills said the exhibit is likely to stay in Springfield for several years.

Cornelius said the movie's depiction of Lincoln-era life is good, perhaps even more thorough than the museum's in the case of the office on display.

"What they have the advantage of in Hollywood is a great deal more money and space," he said.

Still, some details are illusive. Historians know some things about Mary Todd's Lincoln's dresses from old photographs, but none of them are in color.

The museum's foundation secured use of the props after hearing about them being displayed at Ronald Reagan's presidential museum in California.

The sets and props join the Lincoln experience the museum already offers in conjunction with other sites in Springfield.

It takes a few hours to fully explore the museum. Nearby is the home Lincoln and his family lived in when he was elected president, the Old State Capitol where he delivered the famous "House Divided" speech and his tomb. Those sites can be toured for free.

In fact, Day-Lewis toured all three, plus the museum, in 2010 to prepare for the role. He reportedly stopped short of the museum's depiction of Lincoln's assassination and funeral because -- spoiler alert! -- the film ends before the president's history-changing arrival at Ford's Theatre.

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