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U.S., world honors for presidential museum
Scholarly, entertainment groups give recognition

Published Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum has won recognition for both its entertainment value and its scholarly appeal via two prestigious awards announced Wednesday.

Bob Rogers, head of BRC Imagination Arts, the firm that designed the high-tech museum, said the simultaneous honors highlight the impact of the museum's "Showmanship Meets Scholarship" approach to presenting Lincoln's story.

The museum has been given the National Award of Achievement from the Lincoln Group of New York. The group is a nationwide society of scholars dedicated to the study and discussion of the life and times of Lincoln.

The award, given annually to a literary or artistic project, honors the Lincoln museum for bringing the history of Lincoln to the American people, according to a press release from BRC.

The museum also won a top honor from a group in the entertainment field - the TEA, formerly known as the Themed Entertainment Association.

The Lincoln museum is one of 13 recipients of 2005 Thea Awards for achievement in the creation of compelling places and experiences.

"(TEA) is the equivalent in our industry of the Motion Picture Academy," which awards the Oscars, Rogers said. "It's a competition of the best of the best in the entire world."

This year's awards recognized accomplishments in seven countries for sites ranging from amusement parks to zoos.

Rogers said the TEA doesn't select winners on a categorical basis. "First, they find the best in the world. And that's why this is so huge. If we were only competing against museums, that would be one thing. But we were competing against the best in any category, period," he said.

Other recipients of this year's Thea Awards include Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., "The Curse of DarKastle - The Ride" at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., "Fear Factor Live" at Universal Studios in Hollywood, "Images of Singapore" at Sentosa Island in Singapore and "The Lifeline Table" exhibit at the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Room in London.

The awards will be presented at a black-tie gala on March 18 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

Rogers said representatives of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency probably will attend the ceremony, which he equates to Oscar night.

He added that he doesn't know of any other presidential museums that have received Thea awards.

Rogers said the award is a compliment to the vision and determination of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which worked closely with BRC during the museum's creation.

"I can't tell you how proud we are to be associated with this thing. ... It's not our award. It belongs to the whole project," Rogers said. "Every single person and company and organization that worked on it shares equally in that award.

"To simultaneously receive this and an award from a scholarly organization is a big, huge deal. We're just flabbergasted," Rogers added.

Amanda Reavy can be reached at 788-1525 or amanda.reavy@sj-r.com.

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