The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield has passed a milestone, welcoming its three millionth visitor on Tuesday.
The museum opened in 2005 to plenty of fanfare, including a holographic display featuring Lincoln that caused some historians to cringe. They viewed it as turning the Great Emancipator into a Disney like attraction. Still, crowds kept packing the place… until recently. Attendance has dropped off in the last three years compared to what it was. But Dave Blanchette the Deputy Director says it was anticipated…
BLANCHETTE…”And the exhibit designers told us what to expect. They said in the first two years you will receive artificially high attendance, and we did. We received one million people in the first two years alone. Then they said it would be semi high for the next couple of years after that. And then we would plateau at a level we would maintain.”
That’s where the museum is now… drawing about 300-thousand visitors a year.
Since the facility opened, it held the title of the most visited presidential museum in the country. Until last year when the Ronald Reagan site in California topped it. Blanchette chalks that up to the publicity surrounding the Reagan Centennial.
Becky Hughes of St. Joseph, Mo., earned the distinction as the 3 millionth visitor this morning. Museum director Eileen Mackevich and other dignitaries gave Hughes a stovepipe hat filled with items from the museum gift shop. The museum had its 2 millionth visitor in July 2009 and its 1 millionth visitor in January 2007.
Hughes and her children stopped at the Springfield museum on their way home to Missouri after a trip to New York. Hughes visited the museum with her 15-year-old daughter Bailey, 13-year-old son Briar and family friend Ray Neiderhouse of Mound City, Mo.
Hughes said the visit was “just a spur of the moment thing.” (Sean Crawford, WUIS)