Senate committee passes bill that would split Lincoln museum from Lincoln foundation

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — A plan to separate the state run Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and museum and the Abraham Lincoln presidential foundation moved forward in the Illinois Senate today.

Senator Jason Barickman said the committee of the lawmakers turned divorce lawyers were working through the specifics on who will have what at the end of the break up between the foundation and the museum. 

“Today was a lot about formalizing the breakup between those two entities,” Barickman said.

A series of disputes between the two sides — one of which being the infamous stove pipe hat that the foundation bought, thinking it belonged to lincoln, but then later could not authenticate it. 

The Abraham Lincoln presidential library and museum executive director Christina Shutt testified at the hearing.

“The intention was, i have no doubt, well-meaning. In practice, however, it is simply not workable. The law doesn’t require the foundation to share its fundraising proceeds or open its books for a detailed review,” Shutt said. “The result? A public agency answerable to taxpayers is shackled to a private organization that operated with little transparency or accountability.”

The foundation has not given a position on the legislation that would officially separate the two entities. The foundation’s 25 million dollar collection of Lincoln artifacts is being used as collateral while it slowly chips away at a large debt it accrued by assembling that collection.

Barickman said Wednesday’s hearing made it clear that this will not harm one of the state’s top attractions in the capital city. 

“I hope the takeaway once this is all you know, this bill moves forward is that the public can continue to see the benefits of the museum,” Barickman said.

The loan agreement between the museum and the foundation is separate from the partnership between the two. If the legislation passes, and the two sides do not work directly together, the artifacts from the foundation’s collection will still be shown at the museum and library. That agreement is scheduled to end next October.

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