Largest Lincoln Exhibit Ever Opens In California

Kevin Trotman, Flickr

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library just debuted a new exhibit on the most famous Republican. A. Lincoln: From Railsplitter to Rushmore opened Saturday and will run through September 31. With 250 items culled from major collectors, it’s the largest assemblage of the Lincoln family’s personal effects ever displayed.

But other museums have examples of this exhibit’s highlights, such as his stovepipe hats, Lincoln-signed 13th Amendments and his gold pocket watches. There are plenty of blood-stained fabrics from the night of his assassination (curiously, none have been used to yield a sample of Lincoln’s DNA – that doesn’t exist). What makes this exhibit in Simi Valley, California, stand out is the inclusion of sets and costumes from Lincoln, the recent movie by DreamWorks Studios.

If you saw the movie, you’ll recognize the office where Daniel Day-Lewis gave his entrancing soliloquies, Mary Todd Lincoln’s dresses and parts of Peterson’s Boarding House, the building where Lincoln died.

The exhibit, which commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, plays into the current fascination with Lincoln’s personal life. For decades he was widely perceived as a caricature – Honest Abe, who freed the slaves – and now Lincoln mania is drawing attention to the real man behind the stovepipe hat, his family and his political genius. Who would guess that 40 years ago, there wasn’t vast interest in Lincoln at all? According to James Cornelius, an Abe expert from Lincoln’s presidential library in Springfield, Ill., the 16th president enjoyed a big moment during the Civil War’s centennial in 1965, but then the fever died down until Ken Burns revived pop culture’s interest with his blockbuster Civil War documentary in 1990.

We’re pretty sure A. Lincoln won’t be the last homage for a while, though it will likely remain the largest.

Ronald Reagan retrospective at Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

Ronald ReaganRonald Reagan is the subject of a retrospective at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. The multimedia exhibition is called One Life: Ronald Reagan and marks the centenary of his birth.

Most of the material covers his time as president, including the attempted assassination in 1981, his handling of the waning years of the Cold War, and bombing Libya. Yes, Gaddafi has been causing trouble for that long. Visitors will see a variety of photographs and artifacts, including a portion of the Berlin Wall, a portrait by Andy Warhol, and video clips of the 40th president’s speeches.

Space is reserved for lesser-seen images of Reagan from his early years as a sports announcer, actor, and president of the Screen Actors Guild. Yes, Reagan was a union leader! The image above is from his 1938 film Cowboy from Brooklyn. This musical comedy, one of his many popular films, even has Ronny Rayguns singing.

Love him or hate him, Ronald Reagan had a profound effect on the nation’s politics and culture. This show will teach you more about the man everyone has an opinion on.

One Life: Ronald Reagan runs from July 1 to May 28, 2012.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Layover: Washington DC (Reagan)

[Today we're launching our Layover series, what will soon become a database of ideas and logistics for your next extended layover. We'll be covering most of the biggest airports in the country and even a few overseas, giving you a great reason to step out instead of staying in during your visit. Check back often over June and July for updates from your favorite layover city.]

One of the best things about Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is its proximity to the city of Washington DC. Land at Reagan at 6PM, and you can be at a bar in Dupont Circle by 6:45. At some airports, it takes that long to get out of the terminal.

Given this virtue and the excellent public transportation connecting to it, DCA is fairly easy to escape — even during a short layover. So if the restaurants and entertainment aren’t enough to tickle your fancy at the new Reagan terminals, step out for a bit and breathe the fresh air of Washington DC. Stick around and we’ll show you a few hot spots to hit while you’re waylaid.

Short Layovers (around 2 hours)

Washington DC’s historic metro is the key to any layover from DCA, the comprehensive network of trains serving (almost) all corners of the city. Fares depend on the distance traveled, but for any layover from DCA one can expect to pay less than $3 for a one way trip. Tickets can be purchased at the airport station, which is easily walkable from any part of Reagan.

DCA is located on the Blue and Yellow lines just south of the city, and you can easily connect to the rest of the city from L’enfant Plaza, Gallery Place or Chinatown. On a shorter layover, however, you don’t want to get too far away form the airport, so it’s best to stick with what’s close.

If you’re the shopping type of person, The Fashion Center at Pentagon City is only one stop away to the north. As one of the largest shopping centers in the city, The Fashion Center has your standard mall brands including Gap and The Body Shop. Sure, you won’t get much unique Washington DC culture, but it’s a great way to kill time and pick up some essentials. Depending on train schedules, it takes about 25 minutes to get from terminal to mall entrance.

For your dose of culture, go two stops further on the blue line to Arlington, where you can visit the graves of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery and pay your respects. Entry is free.

Long Layovers (4 hours or more)

With the flexibility of four or more hours in your layover, you have enough time to do many of the things in the city that you could in a normal day. It’s best to cross reference a list of what you want to see against what is best accessible on the metro. Obviously, you wont be able to wait in line to visit the top of the Washington Monument or take a tour of the White House, but walking around the Lincoln Memorial, visiting the Smithsonian Museums or getting a drink in Dupont Circle can all be done in plenty of time.

Here’s a quick list of top destinations and their metro stops if you’re reading this from the airport:

  • White House: Farragut West, Blue & Orange
  • Smithsonian Museums: Smithsonian, Blue & Orange
  • Lincoln Memorial: Foggy Bottom, Blue & Orange
  • Holocaust Museum: Smithsonian, Blue & Orange
  • National Archives: Archives, Yellow & Green
  • Jefferson Memorial: Smithsonian, Blue & Orange
  • Vietnam Memorial: Foggy Bottom, Blue & Orange
  • Washington Monument: Smithsonian, Blue & Orange

You can find more hotspots and their respective subway stops over at this handy about.com webpage.

Other Tips

One word of caution about Reagan airport is that security screening can often back up. Make sure you look at the TSA situation on your way out — check to see if there is an elite or first class line, whether things seem to be moving smoothly and whether it’s going to take a while to get through. You don’t want to get to the airport on time but miss your flight while waiting for the x-ray.

Plan your next layover with Gadling’s Layover Guides.

See how the presidents live away from home

There’s more to the presidency than the White House. From Camp David to presidential libraries across the country, there are plenty of portals into the lives of those who have held the most powerful office in the world. In fact, the real insights may come not from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but from these other homes. A recent article on CNN offers five prime locations.

Lincoln’s Birthplace: Run by the National Park Service, you can soak in the spirit of our 16th president through exhibits and walking tours. You can even explore a replica of Lincoln’s birth cabin.

Reagan Library: Start at the 40th president’s final resting place, in Simi Valley, CA. In addition to holding President Reagan’s official documents, you can peek into his history, including his college letter sweater and memorabilia from his earlier career in Hollywood.

Mount Vernon: Our first president, George Washington, spent most of his adult life on this estate, which has been open to the public since 1860. Since then, nearly 80 million visitors have passed through. Go on Presidents’ Day, and admission is free.

Hermitage: Stroll through President Andrew Jackson‘s mansion, enjoy the gardens and even enjoy the original log cabin where he lived for a bit with his family. See a piece of “Old Hickory” that rarely makes it into the public eye.

Check out a video of Lincoln’s Birthplace following an ice storm after the jump.

[Via CNN]

California Native American Day

Native American Day is something the California State University at San Bernadino has taken to heart. When Ronald Reagan signed the resolution in 1968 to make the 4th Friday of September, American Indian Day, the aim was to foster knowledge about California’s Native American population. The university holds a five-day Native American Culture Conference for educators as part of their commitment to honor the resolution’s intent.

The conference started yesterday and will culminate in an evening event that is open to everyone this Friday, September 28. If you go, you can expect Native American music, art, food and Native American bird songs.

Here’s something to know. California has more than 100 recognized tribes. This is more than in any other state. To find out more about California’s Native American history, the 500 Nations Web site seems to be a decent place to start. Here you’ll find links to events, places to visit, casinos and tribes.