Soldiers & Sailors’ Lincoln exhibit will move to North Side
Bruce Klein is hoping Abraham Lincoln can help to preserve the Photo Antiquities Museum the way he did the Union.
The founder of the museum has put together an exhibit of portraits, photos and memorabilia on the 16th president that will open Feb. 8 at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland, before beginning a six-month stay at Photo Antiquities on the North Side. Feb. 12 marks Lincoln’s 205th birthday.
“The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln: National Photographic and Artifact Exhibition” will feature about 70 items at the Soldiers & Sailors stay and more than 100 when it moves to the North Side in early March.
Klein says he “called in favors” from collectors from Massachusetts to California to put together the exhibit.
The display is aimed at honoring Lincoln, he says, but also is part of an effort to raise funds to acquire the Allegheny Social Hall on nearby Concord Street as the new home for the photo museum.
The current site is small, and Klein says he is redoing the first floor of it for the Lincoln exhibit to make it more accessible. Currently, the museum is on the second floor at 531 E. Ohio St., and Klein admits some visitors have trouble with the steps.
He hopes larger crowds at the Lincoln exhibit will lead to more memberships and, perhaps, corporate donations that will enable the move.
“Concord Street is still the key, but we hope this exhibit is a step in that direction,” says Klein, also the owner of Bernie’s Photo Center, several doors away on East Ohio Street.
Frank Watters, executive director of the museum, says they hope interest will grow “like the snowball that starts off small.”
State Sen. Jim Ferlo has been helping Klein get sponsors for the Lincoln exhibit. He calls the museum a “hidden treasure” and says he got involved in the project because of his love of history and to get “more visibility and support” for the museum.
The exhibit will feature some dramatic items, Klein says, such as a portrait by artist A.F. King (1854-1945), an 1848 copy of a daguerreotype of a young congressman Lincoln from 1846, and a tintype of the Lincoln deathbed in 1865.
It also will feature a shot of Lincoln taken by photographic pioneer Matthew Brady to which its owner attached a signature of the president.
Ferlo says a podium will be set up at the Soldiers & Sailors exhibit, and attendees will be invited to do readings about Lincoln and his era. The readings will be filmed for a documentary.
Klein says he came up with the idea for the display about two years ago, when he saw all of the attention being paid to the Civil War’s 150th anniversary.
“Everybody was talking about the war, but no one was talking about Lincoln,” he says.
He admits, with a little regret, that the exhibit should probably have been done in 2013 — the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address — but assembling the pieces took some time.
“We still have things coming in,” Kle in says.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected] or 412-320-7852.