Washington, D.C.’s most highly trafficked Greek Doric temple is getting a multi-million dollar makeover—or at least the cavernous space beneath it is.
As revealed this week by the U.S. National Park Service, the Lincoln Memorial, completed in 1922 as the final project of Beaux-Arts heavyweight and Charles McKim mentee Henry Bacon, will be the future home of a 15,000 square foot “immersive museum” that will use multimedia presentations to delve into the rich history of the site with a focus on its construction and its enduring role as an “international icon dedicated to the achievements of Abraham Lincoln and individuals such as Marian Anderson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who have shaped the history of the memorial," said the NPS in its President's Day–timed announcement.
Cross-section of the Lincoln Memorial undercroft. Image Courtesy NPS
While the three interior chambers of the Neoclassical landmark are a key stop on the D.C. tourist circuit, the planned museum will be built-out in a section of the memorial where very few visitors have tread: it’s undercroft. Open to the public for guided tours in the 1970s and 1980s before ultimately being closed off due to asbestos concerns, the Lincoln Memorial’s vast undercroft—“a tall grid of concrete columns surrounded by large expanses of open space,” per the park service—will be transformed via floor-to-ceiling glass walls that will provide views deep into the space while “immersive theater presentations” will be projected onto the foundation of the structure.
Undercroft exhibition space. Rendering courtesy NPS
Immersive theater beneath the Lincoln Memorial. Rendering courtesy NPS