New Oak Ridge museum director was fired from old job for ‘pimping out’ Gettysburg Address, IG report says

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Alan C. Lowe. Source: American Museum of Science and Energy

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) – The new director of the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge was fired as Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library for ‘pimping out’ one of five existing copies of the Gettysburg Address, an Illinois Inspector General’s report says.

READ: The Illinois Office of Executive Inspector General’s report

The American Museum of Science and Energy announced Monday that Alan C. Lowe would take over as museum director. Lowe previously worked in East Tennessee as the Executive Director of the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville from 2003 to 2009. He recently served as director at the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas as well as the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

The Illinois Office of Inspector General began investigating Lowe in February after they received an anonymous complaint that the ALPLM loaned out the Gettysburg Address despite it being one of the seven artifacts deemed “Not to Be Loaned” by the museum.

An Illinois IG report released Friday said Mercury One, a temporary museum located the Dallas studios of conservative pundit Glenn Beck, paid the ALPLM $50,000 for the loan. The museum also paid for Lowe and then-ALPLM Chief Operating Officer Michael Little to travel to and stay in Dallas during the temporary exhibition featuring the artifact without approval from Executive Ethics Commission or the ALPLM’s Ethics Officer.

The report states neither Lowe nor Little were present for the transport, removal or repackaging of the Gettysburg Address. Little later resigned from the ALPLM in lieu of termination for leaving the artifact unattended or unsecured. The report also states Little began working for Mercury One shortly after leaving the ALPLM.

Mercury One failed to provide a written request for the artifact or a Standard Facility Report, both standard ALPLM practices. A Standard Facility Report provides key details including accreditation, key staff, exhibition and maintenance information as well as security procedures.

The Gettysburg Address had only been loaned out two other times in ALPLM history. The process of the first loan to the Gettysburg Foundation in 2008 took nearly 1 year to finalize and the second loan to the Chicago History Museum in 2009 took approximately 8 months. Following the second loan, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency passed a resolution adding the Gettysburg Address and six other artifacts to a ‘Not to be Loaned’ list.

According to the report, Lowe began discussions with Mercury One regarding the loan on June 5, 2013. The loan agreement was executed just eight days later with the certificate of insurance emailed to the ALPLM less than an hour before the artifact was shipped.

Lowe had originally offered to send the Emancipation Proclamation with Lincoln’s signature to Mercury One, before settling on the Gettysburg Address and six other artifacts. The copy of the Gettysburg Address has an appraised value of $20 million.

Other artifacts loaned to Mercury One included the doorplate from Lincoln’s home, a letter from Lincoln to J.R. Giddings and even a lock of Lincoln’s hair with a photograph. The other six artifacts have a total appraised value of $905,000.

In November 2018 and June 2019, Lowe again sought to loan ALPLM artifacts to Mercury One, including the ALPLM’s copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. The exhibit for the first proposed loan did not materialize, and ALPLM staff were able to block the second loan.

The museum was a division of the Illinois Historic Preservation Society until 2017 when then-Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive order abolishing the HPA and establishing the ALPLM as a new state agency directly responsible to the governor.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker fired Lowe on September 20 and later appointed qualified individuals to the ALPLM Board of Trustees for greater oversight into the museum’s operations and potential future loans.

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