Select Page

One Life: The Mask of Lincoln

One Life:  The Mask of Lincoln

Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit at the Civic Center

One Life: The Mask of Lincoln, a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit, will be on display at the West Plains Civic Center “Gallery at the Center”, November 2-27, 2016.

The exhibit is sponsored by Missouri State University-West Plains, University/Community Programs.

No American has had more written or said about him than Abraham Lincoln. To both his contemporaries and posterity, Lincoln has been an endless subject of mystery and fascination. To commemorate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, this exhibition provides many faces of Lincoln from the museum’s collection, a collection that charts Lincoln’s passage from a fresh-faced Illinois congressman to his grizzled isolation as president. One of the highlights is the rare appearance of the original cracked-plate portrait of Lincoln by Alexander Gardner. The exhibition also shows how Lincoln used the new art of photography to convey his image to Americans, letting them see in him what they most desired.


In the two-hundred years since his birth, Abraham Lincoln remains as much a puzzle as he was to his contemporaries. That he came from nothing and was an obscure figure, almost to the moment of his nomination for the presidency, only adds to his mystery. His essential nature remains elusive, despite our best efforts to reveal the “real” Lincoln. Perhaps, though, that very mysteriousness is the key to his character and personality. Lincoln, with a supreme confidence in himself and an almost providential sense of his personal mission, was incredibly adroit in his ability to adapt to circumstances and shape events.


This exhibition concentrates on presidential portraits to show the changing face that Abraham Lincoln presented to the world as he led the fight for the Union. Shaping himself to the uncertainties of the present, mindful of his role as the heir to the Founding Fathers, Lincoln led the nation where it never intended to go: from a political crisis over states’ rights to the revolutionary act of abolishing slavery. What is uncanny is how Lincoln moved toward this conclusion in public, before an audience fascinated and yet bewildered by the workings of an extraordinary mind.


West Plains Council on the Arts will host a reception will be held November 3 at 8 p.m., immediately following the performance of “Danny Russel as Abraham Lincoln”, which will be at 7 p.m. in the Civic Center theater. Travel from a log cabin to the White House in this compelling hour-long theatre performance by actor Danny Russel. Watch as young Abraham Lincoln overcomes hardscrabble poverty, fails in business, and finally unites a divided and broken nation. At the reception, you can mingle with “Honest Abe” himself, who will remain in character and costume throughout the evening.