SPRINGFIELD (WJBC) – “There were some bumps in the road in the past, but the past is the past.”
That could be the best way to sum up the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield as 2020 begins. Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz used those words as the first meeting of ALPLM’s new governing board began.
Our news partners at WJBC say the organization’s troubles have included a multi-million-dollar purchase of a stovepipe hat — from one of its own board members — whose authenticity has been called into question; the faces of influential people being painted into crowd scenes in murals; and, most recently, an executive director who was fired after loaning the museum’s copy of the Gettysburg Address to talk show host Glenn Beck for an event in Texas,
Ray LaHood, the former central Illinois Congressman and former U.S. transportation secretary, says it’s a new start. “We have a new board, we have a breath of fresh air,” LaHood said after the meeting. “I think when the new executive director comes on, it will be a completely new start for the library and museum.”
The board will hire an executive search firm.
A spectator with plenty of institutional knowledge and plenty of opinions brings us back to the hat, which the state historian says should be examined by costuming experts to see if it’s even old enough to have been Lincoln’s.
“The board has an obligation to go back to (former foundation board member) Louise Taped and ask her for a refund” of the $6.5 million, said Tony Leone, who advised then-Gov. George Ryan as the museum was being planned. “You just can’t look the other way and say, it coulda been, shoulda been, mighta been his hat.”