Abraham Lincoln was a master at using words to motivate and inspire. Now his words will be part of a new sculpture honoring the 16th president, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum announced (ALPLM) on Lincoln’s 211th birthday.
“Beacon of Endurance” will be an obelisk emblazoned with words describing Lincoln’s inspiring legacy and some of his most striking quotes. At night, the beacon will project inspirational — and aspirational — words about American society onto the museum’s east wall.
Exactly which words the sculpture will include has not been determined yet. An advisory panel will help the presidential library and the sculptor decide in the months ahead. As the project develops, the public will also get a chance to share ideas through social media.
“Beacon of Endurance” was designed by B.J. Krivanek of the Chicago firm Krivanek+Breaux/Art+Design. When completed, it will stand at the museum’s southeast corner, at the intersection of Jefferson and Seventh streets. The sculpture is 24 feet, 10 inches tall and slightly tilted “to suggest human and constitutional traumas and vulnerabilities,” Krivanek said.
The bottom, where Lincoln quotes will be inscribed, will weather and rust over time. Above that, in impervious stainless steel, will be individual words about Lincoln’s character and principles.
At night, the structure will project “societal ideals and issues onto the museum walls, to become a beacon of American endurance through decades of history that is still unfolding,” Krivanek said.
“We are excited to bring this important work to our site,” said Lance Tawzer, exhibits director at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and one of the people who selected Krivanek+Breaux’s proposal. “The sculpture will identify the museum to people approaching from the east and, more importantly, inspire reflection and discussion about Lincoln for generations to come.”
The presidential library will assemble members of the community to help determine the wording on the beacon. Suggestions received via social media will be shared with this group to help in its decision-making.
The $223,000 project is made possible by the Illinois Capital Development Board’s Art-in-Architecture program. The board reserves one-half of one% of the cost of state building and renovation projects to purchase public art. Since its inception in 1977, it has purchased or commissioned nearly 1000 works by Illinois artists.
“Throughout its history, Illinois has always supported great public art. CDB is proud to partner with the ALPLM to bring this moving piece to life for the people of Illinois,” said Jim Underwood, executive director of the Capitol Development Board.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.