“Ghosts of the Library,” presented by AT&T, is a high-tech immersive exhibition at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in downtown Springfield. The purpose for this exhibition, which debuted in 2005 when the museum opened, was to explain to the audience what goes on in a presidential library.
In Ghosts of the Library, the public walks into a theater and is greeted by a live actor who shares information about strategically placed artifacts in the museum. As the actor continues to talk, ghostly holographic images appear out of smoke and help to explain and capture the audience’s attention. An example would be an actor reading the Gettysburg Address as an image of Abraham Lincoln appears and finishes the reading.
Connecting the past to the present, Ghosts of the Library is the best example of when showmanship and scholarship seamlessly provide an educational experience for all ages. Holavision is a proprietary BRC Imagination Arts-owned technology that allows a live, on-stage actor to appear to control smoke and vapors around him or her, causing the vapors to condense and form images that seem to interact with and respond to the actor. Holavision permits the magical fade away, dissolve, or disappearance of the on-stage live actor.
Planning for Ghosts of the Library began at least two years before the museum opened. Meetings were held with historians, educators, writers, and people from the community to hear their thoughts, questions, and ideas about content. From the beginning, performances were scheduled to run seven days a week, 362 days a year. As of March 2020, over 70,000 performances of “Ghosts of the Library” had been presented.
The show runs on a computer track, perfectly synchronizing lighting, projections, music, and audio cues. It is not easy to learn, and sections of the show are rehearsed in 15-30 second intervals dozens of times. The script is filled with interesting images, providing an experience that is still thrilling, powerful, and quite moving nearly two decades later.
“When visiting Springfield, families should prioritize visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library,” stated Rep. Mike Coffey (R-Springfield). “The Ghosts of the Library show is a must-see for everyone, as it is captivating, thrilling, and full of historical context. The work and production on this show is second to none, and it has been a staple since the museum opened.”