Abraham Lincoln looks careworn – his features creased, his eyes bleary. He could use a haircut. His tie is crooked.
As he stares obediently from Alexander Gardner's famous 1865 “cracked plate” photograph, taken a few days before Lincoln's assassination, his aging face is in focus, but his head and ears fade into the blurry background, as if he was already vanishing into legend.
Last week, the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery offered a sneak preview of the haunting photograph – the rarely seen solitary print made from the cracked glass negative – which is the centerpiece of new a Lincoln exhibit there that opens Friday.
It was one of 80 exhibits, lectures, tours and programs reviewed as tourism, museum and government officials detailed Washington's months-long celebration of the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth this February, “Living the Legacy: Lincoln in Washington, .DC.”
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The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which reopens next month after an $85 million renovation, will unveil the White House copy of the Gettysburg Address, followed in January by two major Lincoln exhibitions.
The Library of Congress will put on display a trove of priceless Lincoln documents, as well as the items found in the president's pockets the night he was assassinated, and the pearl and gold jewelry worn by first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, starting in February.
A convention of Lincoln impersonators, which will include about 50 “Lincolns” from across the country, will come to town in April.
On Easter, April 12, there will be a re-enactment of opera singer Marian Anderson's 1939 appearance at the Lincoln Memorial, featuring mezzo soprano Denyce Graves.
And the Lincoln Memorial itself will be rededicated on Memorial Day.
Ford's Theater, where the assassination took place, will reopen in February, after a $50 million renovation. 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 in February an exhibit on Lincoln collections.
And the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on Jan. 31, will recreate Lincoln's famous second inaugural ball, which was held in the museum building March 6, 1865.