A new Lincoln statue at New Salem?



Lincoln Statue located in the lobby of the New Salem Visitor's Center & Museum.

Lincoln Statue located in the lobby of the New Salem Visitor’s Center & Museum.












Plaque for the "Search for Knowledge" statue.

Plaque for the “Search for Knowledge” statue.

B. Nash with statue.

B. Nash with statue.



Has this Lincoln statue always been at the New Salem Visitor’s Center & Museum lobby? The plaque indicates the sculptor as Larry Dale Wetherholt. If I’m reading the inscription correctly, it seems the work of art was “repaired and bronzed”-meaning that it had existed previously? At any rate, it was presented to Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site on February 12, 2011. Please read the wall plague (pictured above) for other details. Like a few other Lincoln statues, it features young Lincoln engrossed in reading a book. It also features a dog at his side (a motif that has also been used before). I checked the excellent book Lincoln In Sculpture by Carl Volkmann, but this particular statue is not listed in it. Obviously, the sculpture is meant to convey the Abraham Lincoln of New Salem.  He appears strong, vibrant, friendly, and thirsty for knowledge (hence, the title of the work “Search for Knowledge”).  As I was standing at the desk at the entrance of the museum, a few children came in to the lobby. Instantly, the kids were all over the statue. That kind of activity is probably what Wetherholt has in mind when he created it. No cold unapproachable statue, but a Lincoln that is close to the floor, sitting low, with a dog. If that doesn’t invite interaction-I don’t know what does.


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4 Responses to “A new Lincoln statue at New Salem?”

  1. B. Nash says:

    Dave: did the artist complete any other Lincoln works?

  2. Dave Wiegers says:

    He was big name in competitive ice sculpting many years ago. He was quite versatile and created art in many mediums.
    I can’t say this is one of my favorites but if the kids love it and brings them closer to Lincoln then is has served its purpose.

  3. B. Nash says:

    Dave: that makws sense- as far as the timing. I was there in New Salem last week- but prior to that I hadn’t been there since 2007. Very cool that you knew the artist. Sorry to hear he has passed away.

  4. Dave Wiegers says:

    Bill, that statue has been there for a few years. I believe it was dedicated in 2011 around Lincoln’s birthday.IT is by a now deceased Decatur, Il artist named Larry Wetherholt. Decatur is my old home town before I moved to Chicago back in 1996 and I knew Larry and own a piece of his duck decoy work.
    Actually the piece was not originally bronze. It was cast after his death. The Bloomington Illinois Chapter of the Eastern Star paid the $35K to have Larry’s plaster work made into bronze.

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