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Myriad Events Planned to Honor 16th President

Alexander Gardner's 1865
Alexander Gardner's 1865 "cracked plate" photograph of Abraham Lincoln. (Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

Conservators have started studying the items for display, many of which have grown fragile over the years.

On Wednesday, senior paper conservator Mary Elizabeth Haude displayed a draft of the May 23, 1860, letter Lincoln penned accepting the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Haude noted that the three-paragraph letter was written with iron gall ink, which over time corrodes paper. And in places where Lincoln crossed out a word, the excess ink has eaten tiny gashes in the paper.

Haude said the document would probably be bathed to remove any residual iron and perhaps patched with delicate long-fibered paper.

The National Museum of American History, which reopens next month after an $85 million renovation, will display the White House copy of the Gettysburg Address, followed in January by two major Lincoln exhibitions.

Next Friday, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery will unveil "One Life: The Mask of Lincoln," which will feature the haunting, rarely seen original Alexander Gardner photograph of a care-worn Lincoln taken a few months before he was assassinated.

Easter Sunday, April 12, will see a reenactment of opera singer Marian Anderson's 1939 performance on Easter at the Lincoln Memorial, featuring mezzo soprano and Washington native Denyce Graves.

And the Lincoln Memorial will be rededicated on Memorial Day.

Ford's Theatre, where the assassination took place, will reopen in February after a $50 million renovation, although its refurbished museum, containing the clothing Lincoln wore the night of his death, won't reopen until spring.

The National Museum of Health & Medicine, which has the bullet that killed the president, plans an exhibit on his death. The Lincoln Cottage, on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, which Lincoln used as a getaway, will unveil an exhibit on Lincoln collections in February.

And the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on Jan. 31, will re-create Lincoln's famous second inaugural ball, which was held in the museum building March 6, 1865.

There are an estimated 60 books being published about Lincoln in the next 18 months, according to the national Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Symposiums are planned in France, England and India.

Even Lincoln's food tastes will be celebrated. William A. Hanbury, president of Destination DC, said yesterday that local restaurants plan to serve a Lincoln favorite: scalloped oysters.

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