The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research

The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research by Emily Rapoza

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On the morning of January 10, 2022, The Rolland Center for Lincoln Research officially opened its doors and ushered in a new chapter for the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection. This new immersive, interactive, and informative space embodies the main goals of the Lincoln Collection: to highlight the many thousands of amazing items in the Lincoln Collection. These items include original photographs of Abraham Lincoln, his family, cabinet members, and generals; letters and documents to and from Lincoln; diaries of Civil War soldiers; and so much more. Located at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Rolland Center is open to the public for exploration of physical items on display as well as virtual items through tech elements that enhance the experience.






To compare with Abraham Lincoln is a flawed mission, but unavoidable in this instance. Ian Rolland, who, with his family, made this Research Center possible, owed much to his Indiana nurturing and opportunities, as did Mr. Lincoln. Both were leaders, blessed with firm but gentle persuasiveness. Both were decisive in crucial times and were of firm foundation, strong character and inflexible convictions. Separated by time and place, Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Rolland responded when called upon by events to lead in securing the values which they embraced, values which have their roots in Indiana. Each, in his way, has contributed to the essential wisdom preserved and protected here for future generations in this Rolland Center for Lincoln Research.













When first entering the space, a floor-to-ceiling Welcome Wall projection greets visitors. Highlighting specific collection items and welcoming visitors, this display creates an eye-catching draw into the space. Along with the Welcome Wall, the Rolland Center also has an Expert in Residence projection that allows for specific items to have more context and for colorful collages to attract attention and prompt musings. These images project through glass onto a screen that can be lifted to create a new type of interactive display that continues to evolve with the creation of the Expert in Residence program.


























The Rolland Center boasts three state-of-the-art exhibit cases throughout the space. These near-bulletproof, UV-blocking displays allow more items to be on display than ever before at the library. Current items on display include the Lincoln Family Album, Lincoln’s image throughout his life, the assassination, Lincoln’s cabinet, and Civil War soldiers and generals.












Scattered throughout the space, there are digital frames that show a variety of collection items as a moving picture frame. These digital frames allow for the whole collection, curated jointly by the Allen County Public Library and the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, to appear in the space.













The space also boasts two full collection kiosks that allow visitors to explore more deeply items in the collection through a variety of themes and asset types. These exploration tools allow users to discover items that pique their interest and to learn about the items individually.












The Rolland Center highlights the Lincoln Family Album in a larger-than-life-way. A kiosk is dedicated to showing the
Lincoln family tree. It allows users to select a member of the family, see a biography about that individual, and enjoy associated items from the collections in order to understand each member of the family. The kiosk not only shows a larger version of the image on its top screen, but it also controls the floor-to-ceiling projection of the items from the family.


















The largest interactive display in the Rolland Center is the Lincoln’s Time and Place feature. The display allows three different users to create their own adventure and explore events as well as places important to Lincoln and the Civil War through timelines and maps. This digital display also flips into a single user mode for classes and large groups to explore together.












In the center of the space is the Immersive Projection Room. In this room, items from the Lincoln Collection are projected 180-degrees around the north end of the room. To add to the immersive feel, soundscapes have been specially prepared for each projection so visitors can “hear” what each image may have sounded like it. Current displays include Lincoln’s second Inaugural Ball, Lincoln and George McClellan at Antietam, Lincoln’s Inauguration, and the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. The space also highlights the Lincoln Collection and its history with an immersive video.















The space was made possible through a joint effort of the Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana, Inc. and the Allen County Public Library. The Rolland Center’s current hours are on the Friends of the Lincoln Collection’s Rolland Center webpage as well as the Library’s webpage:

Questions and tour requests can be sent to: [email protected]


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