How to Avoid the Star Wars Line at the State Museum

See the new Lincoln treasures instead.
Thomas Lincoln cabinets; courtesy Indiana State Museum

If you have a ticket for the blockbuster Star Wars exhibit at the Indiana State Museum (you know, the tickets that went on sale 11 months ago) you might still wait in line to enter the actual gallery. Attendance next weekend, a holiday, is expected to be even more out of this world. So if you do want to see it soon, now’s the time.

Here’s another idea: Detour to a pair of new Lincoln attractions instead.

Saturday, June 29, brings the third installment of the museum’s summer Lincoln lecture series. If it’s anything like the premiere talk earlier this month, it will be a real treat. On June 1, an expert from the Lincoln presidential library in Springfield enthralled a small gathering in a cool auditorium with new documents and related theories that have surfaced in the Lincoln scholarly community. For instance, a handwritten note from 1865 that says “Let this man be discharged” is believed to be Lincoln’s. But because a baseline fingerprint for Abe does not exist, the provenance can’t be confirmed. Also, there’s new reason to believe that Lincoln took his oldest son, Robert, to a Terre Haute doctor around 1850 to receive treatment for a dog bite—treatment that amounted to rubbing the wound with a “mad stone.” The same year, they also went to the Peoria Eye Institute for Robert to have surgery (surgery—in 1850!) on his cross eye. Together, they show that Lincoln was open to both folk medicine and new surgical techniques.

Saturday’s lecturer is Steve Haaff, a historian and teacher at South Spencer High School, near the site of Indiana’s Lincoln Boyhood National Monument. Haaff is an expert on furniture made by Lincoln’s father, Thomas, a skilled and artful carpenter. Two of Thomas’s cabinets will be available for perusal and photos, including one that hasn’t been displayed at the museum before.

Plus, a newly discovered Lincoln artifact from his Hoosier years was just added to the museum’s exhibit The Lincolns: Five Generations of an American Family. It’s the 11th leaf from Lincoln’s Sum Book, a math study guide he created while growing up in Southern Indiana. Previously, only 10 pages of the Sum Book were widely known to exist. The 11th was found at a Harvard library in 2009, and reproductions were recently given to the museum.

Tickets to the Lincoln lecture are $7.