The Lincolns were fortunate to have a long back porch on their house when they purchased it in 1844. Despite adding on and changing the house elsewhere, they kept the south-facing porch as long as they lived in the house, only adding some latticework in one section for shade and a place for the climbing roses to grow, making it a pleasant place to pass the time.
Highs and lows were captured in this one artifact from the Lincolns’ lives in Illinois. The Lincolns’ oldest son, Robert, was born while they were living in one room at the Globe Tavern, and this cradle would have been much too large and expensive for the Lincolns. After the family moved into their one and a half story home, and Mary had their second son, Eddie, in 1846, they had the room and a little extra money to purchase this large walnut cradle.
Mary Lincoln did not know how to cook when she first married Abraham Lincoln, having grown up in homes with slaves in Kentucky. She quickly learned over the large, open fireplace in her new home, but the addition of a wall dividing the kitchen from the dining room destroyed the fireplace and gave Mary a chance to acquire a cook stove.
Mr. Lincoln is often only thought of as the President, but in Illinois, he was also a husband and father who was known to spoil his little boys. Mr. Lincoln also had an interest in technology. These traits came together in Mr. Lincoln’s purchase of a stereoscope for his sons. The stereoscope allowed for viewing on two sides and cost approximately $18-20, the equivalent of a laborer’s monthly wages.
Abraham Lincoln used this desk when he first “began to do business for myself” around 1844, according to the affidavit. About ten years later, he brought it home to his new second floor bedroom and used it there for a few years until he upset the inkwell on it and upset Mrs. Lincoln in the process. She threw it out!
This is Abraham Lincoln’s portable shaving mirror. He used it riding the 8th Illinois Judicial Circuit prior to his presidency. Made from stained oak, it could be folded and neatly tucked away in its self-contained wooden, rectangular case.
Like naturalist illustrations on steroids, Kevin Veara's paintings contain the precision and crisp detail found in John J. Audubon prints but without Audubon's formulaic natural settings. Veara surrounds his birds in exotically-colored patterned environments, bringing to mind the way contemporary painter Kehinde Wiley employs highly-stylized patterning as wallpaper that surrounds his figural paintings in order to critique Western Art history and obliterate cultural boundaries.
Springfield, Illinois, artist Kevin Veara paints birds against eye-popping backdrops of imagined, mutant hybrid flora. His paintings comment on the extraordinary beauty of these birds that are forced to coexist or become extinct in an ever-changing modern environment. Some of his paintings also include the birdcalls in bold, glowing, cursive phonetics, a nod to both early 19th century naturalist studies and tattoo art.
This silver spoon belonged to Frances Todd Wallace, sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. It was purchased from Chatterton’s Jewelry Store in Springfield (the same place where Abraham Lincoln bought Mary’s wedding ring). The spoon was eventually donated to the Illinois State Museum by Frances’s great-granddaughter.
This rosewood chair was rescued from a fire in former Governor Joel Matteson’s private residence in 1873. Built in 1855, Matteson’s Springfield mansion boasted nineteen rooms filled with elaborate furnishings and was considered “a marvel of architectural beauty” in its day. This chair, which was originally upholstered in brocatelle, likely sat in the oil-frescoed first parlor.