New 'Lincoln in Quilts' exhibit at Indiana State Museum depicts life of 16th president in unique way

This quilt by Margaret Frentz, of New Albany, Indiana, incorporates campaign ribbons from every presidential and vice presidential candidate in the 1860 election won by Abraham Lincoln. It's part of the "Lincoln in Quilts: Log Cabins, Flags and Roses" exhibition running through Feb. 19, 2018, at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.

Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

INDIANAPOLIS — Every person living in Indiana and Illinois no doubt has seen dozens of images of Abraham Lincoln, an inhabitant of both states who became the nation's 16th president and preserved the Union during the Civil War.

But a new exhibit that opened Saturday at the Indiana State Museum depicts Lincoln's life using a rather unique medium: quilts.

"Lincoln in Quilts: Log Cabins, Flags and Roses" employs textiles from Lincoln's era to tell the story of Lincoln's early years in Indiana, his Illinois political life and journey to the White House, the Civil War and the mourning period following Lincoln's 1865 assassination.

The display includes a quilt by Margaret Frentz, of New Albany, Indiana, that incorporates campaign ribbons from every presidential and vice presidential candidate in the 1860 election won by Lincoln, which prompted secession by the southern states.

Another quilt, attributed to Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, was pieced together using sewing scraps from the silk dresses she created for her customers, including President Lincoln's wife.

The exhibit also features a banner that hung in Ford's Theater at the time of Lincoln's assassination there.

As well as the Memorial Log Cabin quilt believed to be made from the mourning crepe that hung on the columns of the Indiana Capitol on the day Lincoln's funeral train stopped in Indianapolis en route to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois.

According to the state museum, "Lincoln in Quilts" is the first exhibition to bring together nationally- and internationally-known quilts with connections to Lincoln.

The quilts are on display daily through Feb. 19 at the downtown Indianapolis museum, 650 W. Washington St.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.