Click on the links below to view full program lineup and descriptions.

Lincoln: The Definitive Years

Who was Abraham Lincoln?  In the nearly one hundred and fifty years since his death, Lincoln has become all things to all people.  But before the impact of Lincoln on the Nation and the People today can be clearly understood, he must be understood in the context of his times.  Few American’s knew anything about Lincoln prior to his emergence on the national scene as a Presidential candidate in 1860.  In five short years, Lincoln navigated the Nation’s most significant crisis, and brought about its most radical social change.  But he did so against the backdrop of a nation not at all united in its view of the future.

The historical exhibition at Lincoln 200 will focus on the Lincoln of 1860 to 1865.  Focusing primarily on his role as a politician, commander-in chief, emancipator, and martyr, the exhibition will get beyond the Lincoln of mythology and explore the man as he was seen in his own time.  Admired and despised, revered and lampooned, Lincoln was the most controversial figure of his age. 

The exhibition will include select artifacts, images, political cartoons, and letters to tell the story of Lincoln in his own words and those of his contemporaries. 

Highlights include:
a fragment of the flag raised at Independence Hall
an1864 Lincoln campaign pin
the pen used to sign Gen. U.S. Grant’s Commission
a carved wood representation of Emancipation
a locket containing a lock of Lincoln’s hair
a cast of Lincoln’s face and hands.

Lincoln’s Eye on Science and Technology

Lincoln had a particular curiosity for science and technology. In his time, Philadelphia was a hub for leadership in the development of these innovations as evidenced by their presence in the Great Central Fair of 1864. The city was home to some of the first and most significant institutions dedicated to natural sciences, medical sciences, and technology.  Organizations like the Pennsylvania Hospital, the Wagner Free Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences, and the College of Physicians were all serving the city and the nation prior to the 1860’s, and continue to do so today. 

The science and technology pavilion at Lincoln 200 will highlight the work of these organizations in shaping the education and development of both the city and the nation for almost two hundred years.  Each institution will present its unique history, and demonstrate how much, and in some cases how little, science and technology has changed since the days of Lincoln.

Highlights include:
a forensic look at the Lincoln assassination presented by the The Mutter Museum
Victorian medical techniques contrasted with modern surgery in a presentation by Pennsylvania Hospital
a look at the similarities and differences between the natural sciences in the 1860’s and today presented by the Academy of Natural Sciences, The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and the Wagner Free Institute
the Hadrosaurus Foulkii dinosaur, found in Haddonfield, NJ in 1858, was hailed the greatest natural scientific discovery of Lincoln’s time. Presented by the Academy of Natural Sciences

Abe in the Arts: Creative Freedoms of Expression

Where better to celebrate the freedoms Lincoln fought so hard to preserve than at the very place the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were created? Our right to life, liberty and freedom of expression was strongly influential to Lincoln and the Emmancipation Proclamation; and have likewise inspired –and enabled-- numerous artists. Lincoln 200 commemorates these themes through outdoor sculpture and multiple digital installations on historical interpretations, contemporary impressions, Lincoln biography, civil rights, and freedom of expression.

Highlights include:
winning entries of the Lincoln 200 Contemporary Digital Art competition, juried by the region’s finest artists and teachers
a “Dumpster Divers” found-object interactive sculptural project
a display of Street Art including a preserved section of the demolished South Street Bridge containing Lincoln-inspired graffiti.

Live Music and Performances

Throughout the weekend, the Lincoln 200 performance stage will host a variety of eclectic live music and other performances including short plays, monologues, dance, and comedy.

Ask Abe

Meet Abraham Lincoln up close and personal. If you could ask Lincoln one question, what would it be? Bring your most burning question — Lincoln has the answer.

Mr. Lincoln and General Washington

Abraham Lincoln and George Washington meet at the birthplace of the nation. Eavesdrop on their conversation, and then ask questions of America’s two most popular Presidents.

Abraham and Thomas

Lincoln quizzes Jefferson on his legacy—the Declaration of Independence—and the lingering issue that ripped the Union asunder—slavery. Ask the 3rd President and the 16th President your own burning questions.

First Person Arts

First Person Arts' monthly StorySlam is widely known as a forum for individuals from all walks of life to share inspiring, embarrassing and hilarious stories from their own lives. Surely, if Abraham Lincoln still walked among us, he too would have been lured to the StorySlam stage to share his own tales, to the delight of a rapt audience.

On Friday July 2nd, join some of First Person Arts' most celebrated StorySlammers for an exhibition of true stories inspired by themes from the life of Abraham Lincoln. Nine storytellers will share their best true stories from their own lives about Pinching Pennies, Reconciliation and Stature!

A Separation of Powers

This fun and energizing show teaches the balance between the branches of government and how our Constitution limits government by separating power - a revolutionary idea! Visitors take part in an educational game of tug-of-war among the three branches of government while they learn about checks and balances. Explore how the foundation of our government was tested during the Civil War.

Independence Day

The Fourth of July has always been celebrated with a bang! From protests to cannons, flag waving to parades, explosive words to fiery demonstrations, the Fourth of July Show takes an in-depth look at this exciting celebration by exploring it over time from the very first words of independence to the present day. This show explores how famous Americans have made their voices heard while fighting for civil rights.

Decoding the Document

Visitors have the chance to take a closer look at a rare printing of the Emancipation Proclamation to learn more about its history in Philadelphia, the history of the Civil War, and the background of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.

American Music, Then and Now

From early 19th century freedom songs to modern Americana, popular music of today has its roots in centuries of historical and cultural influence. Local musicians take you on a journey through ‘American Music Then and Now,’ spanning generations and genres with interpretations and original compositions involving banjo, dulcimer, bottle neck guitar, harmonica and saxophone.

My Dear Mrs. Lincoln, by William A. Sommerfield

Historical women are usually neglected in history’s accounts of their husbands’ lives. And yet Mary Todd Lincoln remains one of America’s most provocative First Ladies. Our play explores and then moves beyond Mary Todd Lincoln’s traditional role as Abraham Lincoln’s wife. In this dramatic piece, both Lincolns come alive and confront the audience with the trials and tribulations of the First Couple. You will experience the deep suffering in the hearts of both husband and wife, but will also enjoy some of Abraham Lincoln’s classic humor as he tries to stem the tide of the war and cope with the strain on his wife’s mind, on their marriage, and on their family.

The Terriers in the White House, by William A. Sommerfield

This play explores the personalities and lives of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln and their four sons: Robert, Edmond (deceased before the presidency), Willie and Tad. Robert is withdrawn, so the play centers on the two “terriers,” Willie and Tad. We tell the tale of these two boys, born into a typical American family in the 1840’s and 50’s and living in the White House, the storm center of a nation engaged in a great civil war. The Lincoln boys race around the White House, indulged by their father, scolded by their mother, and complained about by the White House visitors. The 30-minute performance is followed by a Q&A with the Lincolns, giving the audience the opportunity to ask questions and to learn about the connections between the Lincolns and Philadelphia, as referenced by President Obama during his Inaugural speech.

Lincoln Bicentennial Tap Celebration: From Slavery to Today

Originating from the arrival of Africans brought to America in slavery, this uniquely American art form has been an integral part of African-American history, having a profound impact on entertainment and modern dance. This performance examines the history of Tap from the call and response circles formed on plantations through the Vaudeville circuit, to the Cotton Club and Apollo Theater in New York, to its adaptations in Hip Hop and Step. Tap kept up with each new generation, bridging the gap, reinventing the form, and honoring the legacy it represents.

Beck's Philadelphia Military Band

Dressed in period Union infantry uniforms from their brass buckles to shoulder scales, this brass and percussion band re-enacts the brigade Band of the Philadelphia Brigade, which saw combat at Gettysburg and elsewhere. The Band will perform military style martial music of the Civil War era, as well as popular tunes of the time and patriotic airs, such as 'Hail Columbia'.

The Victorian Dance Ensemble

Portraying Civil War era dancers, this performing troupe from the Civil War Dance Foundation shares the grace and beauty of mid-nineteenth century dancing. In their splendid period gowns, these performers involve the audience in the elegance of Victorian dance.

The Libby Prison Minstrels

The Libby Prison Minstrels portrays the original orchestra composed of imprisoned officers at Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. The infamous prison of the Civil War saw as many as 1,300 Union Soldiers, mostly officers in its six dark and dank rooms. Despite the horrors of the prison’s conditions, this musical group managed to purchase instruments from the outside and put on shows that were a wonderful respite from the hardships of prison life.

The Camptown Shakers

This Mid-nineteenth Century and Civil War era musical group plays the favorite minstrel songs of the era. The musicians are attired in authentic period garb, playing songs and tunes on period instruments: fiddle, banjo, and 'bones,’ for your listening and dancing pleasure.

The Philadelphia Union League Fife & Drum Corps

This authentic group of musicians, attired in Civil War era military uniforms, performs the various calls and tunes required for the military routine of the period. They play 'reveille'; dinner calls; assembly and 'lights-out' to alert the troops to daily duties. Setting the beat for parades and marches, The Corps is comprised of fifers and drummers and was an essential part of a military unit.

Green Linc

“Laws change, people die, the land remains.” –Abraham Lincoln

Visitors of the Green Linc Pavilion will experience history with a green twist. Discover the progression of lights, transportation, gardening, communications and more while learning about simple and affordable ways to go green. Here are a few samples of what you will experience in Green Linc:

Lincoln’s Light

From candlelight to gas lamps to incandescent to today’s energy-efficient, compact florescent lamps (CFL) and LED bulbs, festival-goers will see the difference in lighting and learn to save money and have a positive impact on the environment.

Transport Abe

Abraham Lincoln once said during his early political career that his "highest ambition" was "to become the DeWitt Clinton of Illinois" and improve the internal transportation of his home state as Clinton did for New York with the Erie Canal. During Lincoln’s era, there were few modes of transportation as compared today’s countless options. Continual advancements in technology and the most recent movement to take the planet into consideration in the vehicles we use, the look of transportation from the carriages, locomotives and ships of Lincoln’s day, to our modern, individual modes of transport that are produced considering their larger environmental impact to the earth. Highlights include a Box Buggy generously donated by the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.


Lincoln’s legacy to agriculture is very important the advancements in modern food production. In 1861, Lincoln established the United States Department of Agriculture, “to acquire and diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture in the most general and comprehensive sense of the word.” He also signed two pieces of legislation: the Homestead Act, stimulating western migration by offering qualified individuals 160 acres of public land for settlement and cultivation and the Morrill Land Grant College Act, which provided public lands to U.S. states and territories for the establishment of colleges specializing in agricultural research and instruction. As history progresses, several advancements in technology, research and efficiencies were produced as a result of the seeds planted by Abe Lincoln. While the major responsibilities of food production has been taken over by corporations that are able to produce in large quantities to meet the demands of a growing population, more recently we are experiencing a trend of at home vegetable gardening. This new trend has a lot of eco friendly and cost efficient benefits, come to Bio Linc to learn more.


Telegraph, telephone, car phone, wireless, texting, tweeting …communication tools have grown tremendously since Lincoln’s time. Nowadays, you can’t walk around without someone talking, texting, emailing, or tweeting! In this experience, visitors will learn about the development of communication devices (including image communication) throughout the past 200 years. They’ll even be able to experience a “whispering bench,” and tin cans connected by string. Lincoln loved to take advantage of the most current technology available to him, which during the Civil War was the telegraph, but what would Lincoln say if he could use Twitter?

The Lincoln Found-Art Memorial

Philadelphia’s Dumpster Divers is a popular group of artists that use “found-art,” namely recycled garbage, to create their artwork. Including renowned artist Isaiah Zagar who popularized mosaics of broken tiles, glass and mirrors on building facades around Philadelphia (specifically on South Street), the Dumpsters Divers will create an interpretation of the Lincoln Memorial with festival-goers. (Located in the Arts Pavilion)

Honest Abe Recycles

Recycling is such a big component of preserving our Earth for future generations. Festival goers will learn tips within each of the above exhibits within Green Linc Pavilion to help further their understanding of items that are recyclable.

Abe Talks Trash: The Story of Stuff, narrated by Annie Leonard

The disposal of trash has changed significantly over the past 200 years. In the mid 19th century, garbage was dumped into alleys creating unsanitary conditions and infestations, including the White House! Today, people have the option to dispose of trash into dumpsters or to set it out in contained bins or bags for curbside pickup. But have you wondered where it all goes once it is scooped up from the front of your home? The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. (Located in the Performance Pavilion)

Living History

Perhaps no Northern city was more central to Lincoln’s War effort than Philadelphia.  The southernmost Northern city, Philadelphia was a major center for recruiting, training, equipping, and transporting the armies that fought to save the nation.  A hub of transportation and manufacturing, nearly all of the men and supplies that were utilized in the eastern theater of the war were either made in, or passed through Philadelphia.  Recruiting camps were even set up behind Independence Hall. 

The Lincoln 200 festival will feature living history interpreters portraying generals, soldiers, civilians, and political leaders.  There will be a Civil War encampment, first-person presentations by notable figures, demonstrations, and drills.  There will also be a modern military contingent featuring the P.A. National Guard, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. 

Highlights include:
a chance to meet Civil War luminaries such as General Meade, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglass, and others
a Civil War medicine demonstration
military formations and drills
Civil War equipment demonstrations
modern military presentations

Lincoln for Kids

Families and children of all ages can learn about our 16th President, how he grew up in the 1800’s, the Civil War, his famous speeches, and the emancipation proclamation that Lincoln issued, which eventually led to the freeing of all slaves in the USA.

Highlights include:
Lincoln Learning
Make and Take Crafts
Lincoln Log Play Tables
Face Painting
Balloon Art
Jugglers, stilt walkers and more!