John Wilkes Booth is a villain in history. Yet, he had a prominent spot in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.
Since the facility opened in 2005, a sinister statue of Booth shadowed the Lincoln family as visitors entered the main plaza. But no more.
Spokesman Chris Wills said a decision was made to remove the statue. “The leadership here…talked it over, listened to what guests had to say and staff, and decided that wasn’t the appropriate place to deal with John Wilkes Booth and what he did.”
“We wanted the main plaza to reflect on Lincoln’s life and legacy and not necessarily this deranged man who committed this act of violence,” he said.
Since the change, Wills said he has heard from many who agree with the decision and at least one who didn’t.
“We’re not removing all mention of John Wilkes Booth. We’re not even removing all figures of him. In the section devoted to the assassination, there is still an image of Booth sneaking into the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre.”
“We’re talking about adding to that section by adding some documents and artifacts,” Wills said.
A Friday event at the museum will include items related to Lincoln’s death.
“John Wilkes Booth and his role in the assassination are still a big part of the museum,” he added. “It’s just not the first thing you see when you walk in the door.”