A 31-foot tall Abraham Lincoln sculpture is now standing next to the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
The 19-ton sculpture titled “Return Visit” was installed in front of a crowd of more than 100 people at the museum Tuesday. It previously stood on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.
The second part of the statue, a “contemporary man” standing next to Honest Abe, is holding a copy of the Gettysburg Address.
“The metaphor the artist is using here is that Lincoln’s words are as relevant and profound today in 2017 as they were back then,” said museum President and CEO John Morris.
Long straps were place under Lincoln’s arms as he was carried by crane from to the cement block in which he was placed.
One of those who watched was East Peoria resident Carol Blye.
“I know Abraham Lincoln means a lot to everyone. It really seems like the right spot. It is a big enough of a city to make use of it and honor him,” Blye said.
Morris said Peoria was chosen by the Seward Johnson Foundation to host the statue for one year.
It’s free to host, but Peoria had to foot the bill for transportation and installation. Morris publicly thanked many local businesses, such as Gingerich Crane of Morton, River City Construction, Prairie Materials, Mathis Kelley, and Dewberry for donating materials and labor.
The slab of concrete Lincoln stands on is four feet deep in the museum’s Sun Plaza.
“Greatest value to me is the confidence that we can bring one of the most significant public sculptures of Chicago on Michigan Avenue,” Morris said. “We can bring it here to Peoria.”
“Return Visit” was created by American realist Seward Johnson II. It is in Peoria in time to celebrate the Illinois Bicentennial, which will be celebrated through an exhibition next February at the museum.