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Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln's Coat Will Only Be Temporarily Displayed

January 09, 2009 01:02 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
Taking heed from textile conservationists, officials have decided that the coat Abraham Lincoln wore on the night of his assassination is too fragile to display permanently.

To Display, or Not to Display?

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In October, sources reported that for the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth in February 2009, Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., planned to display the bloodied overcoat worn by the former president on the night he was assassinated. But textile conservationists voiced their disapproval, and the theater has now decided to only display Lincoln's coat for a limited time, from Feb. 11 until April 15, according to United Press International.

Lincoln’s Brooks Brothers coat, as well as other garments he wore the night he died, “had been on almost continuous display from the time they were acquired in 1968 until Ford’s was closed for renovation last year,” according to The Washington Post.

Cathy Heffner, president of Textile Preservation Associates, said, “It might be that it’s time to put these things away and not to exhibit them to the public if there’s any hope of saving them for future generations.”

Background: The life and death of Lincoln

According to an Abraham Lincoln article on The Biography Channel, his “relevance endures and grows especially because of his eloquence as a spokesman for democracy.” Despite scrutiny over Lincoln’s views on race and politics, he continues to inspire both researchers and the American public.

Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, and died the next day. But Lincoln was not the only target. Several Booth accomplices had been conspiring to assassinate members of Lincoln’s cabinet, including Secretary of State William Seward.

The night of his death, Lincoln was accompanied by his wife, and joined by Maj. Henry Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris, after General Ulysses Grant and his wife backed out. The findingDulcinea “On this Day” article about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination includes little-known details of the tragic event.

Related Topic: Preserving the Mona Lisa

Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” has been the focus of intensive preservation and restoration efforts. For the North American exhibition of “Mona Lisa Secrets Revealed,” French engineer Pascal Cotte invented a camera capable of using “infrared technology and intense illumination to scan the painting,” peeling away centuries-old layers of varnish and “over-painting,” according to PR Newswire.

In 2005, Evan Quasney, a 19-year-old researcher from the University of Michigan, theorized that the Mona Lisa had continued deteriorating “despite rigid temperature and humidity controls in its chamber,” because of where it hangs at the Louvre. The painting is fixed on “an exterior wall” of the museum, making it vulnerable to outside temperatures, concluded Quasney.

Reference: Textile conservation

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