The Lincoln Memorial has a $69 million makeover in store that includes adding an immersive museum underneath the famous statue.
The project is expected to begin in March and wrap up in 2026, in time for the 250th anniversary of the nation’s independence, according to a news release from the National Park Service.
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The NPS on Monday morning announced that it awarded a contract for the improvements.
Where will I see the biggest changes?
Some of the biggest changes to the monument won’t be inside the chamber most visitors are familiar with that hosts a statue of the nation’s 16th president. Instead, visitors will see a transformation below.
The 15,000 square foot museum will be inside a cavernous area called the undercroft, which is marked by concrete walls and dirt floors.
“New museum exhibits and multi-media presentations will highlight the construction history of the memorial and discuss how the Lincoln Memorial has become the nation’s foremost backdrop for civil rights demonstrations,” a news release from NPS said.
The undercroft will be lined by floor-to-ceiling glass walls and images of historic events will be projected onto the foundations.
Though the site is dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, the museum will explain how the memorial become associated with historical figures such as Marian Anderson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who NPS says “shaped the history of the memorial.”
The money for the museum comes from a public-private partnership project that was announced back in 2016.
“For more than a century, the Lincoln Memorial has been the crucible of American democracy, an enduring platform for free speech, the site of civil protests that still shape society, and the scene of national celebrations,” Will Shafroth, president and CEO of NPS, said in a news release.
“Thanks to generous donors, the National Park Service will ensure the Lincoln Memorial continues to make history for another 100 years.”
Any other improvements?
Besides the museum, NPS said the project includes adding new restrooms, refurbishing the elevator to the chamber level of the memorial and expanding the bookstore.
“Improving the visitor experience at the Lincoln Memorial is vitally important to connecting Americans to the rich history of our country, the triumphs, the failures, and the lessons learned,” said David M. Rubenstein, who donated $18.5 million to the project back in 2016.
Can I visit the monument during the construction?
The public will still be able to access the memorial, including the chamber with the towering statue of Lincoln, during the construction. But the bathrooms and the elevator will close this spring.
Temporary restrooms and a handicapped accessible lift will be available during the renovations.
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