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Emancipation Proclamation makes a rare visit to Reno museum

Never-before-displayed Civil War-era muster rolls are on display. These lists contain the signatures of Nevadans that participated in the U.S. Service.
Photo by Anh Gray

The Nevada Museum of Art will celebrate the state’s 150th birthday with an exhibition showcasing historic treasures. The display will briefly include the Emancipation Proclamation.

In 1864, Nevada officially became the 36th state, and that’s the same number of hours the Emancipation Proclamation will be available for viewing at the museum in downtown Reno.

“Literally as soon as the curtain comes off on the Emancipation Proclamation, the viewing is being clocked by handlers from the National Archives because of its fragility,” museum spokesperson Amanda Horn says.

She’s standing next to a special light and climate-controlled  case where the artifact will be shown. She can’t divulge how the document will get to Reno—that’s top-secret. But she can reveal other aspects of the exhibit, like a weathered Civil War-era, presidential campaign poster.

“It definitely looks different than campaign posters that we would see today," Horn says. "It’s a really very detailed sketch of Abraham Lincoln.”

Civil War-era, presidential campaign poster of Abraham Lincoln.
Credit Photo by Anh Gray
Civil War-era, presidential campaign poster of Abraham Lincoln.

Surrounded by this poster and other artifacts in the gallery, Horn says it’s impossible to separate Nevada’s journey to statehood from the history of the Civil War.

Back in 1864, Lincoln had supporters in Nevada who wanted to vote for him to help put an end to slavery. In order to do that, they rushed to become an official state so residents could cast their ballots.

That original state constitution along with other remnants from the war are part of this new exhibit, which tells the story of the “battle born” state.

The exhibit will run from August 2 to November 2  but the Emancipation Proclamation will only be briefly available for viewing from October 30 to November 2. For more information, visit  www.nevadaart.org.

Esther Ciammachilli is a former part-time broadcaster at KUNR Public Radio.
Anh is a contributing editor for the KUNR news team and has been with the station since 2014. She is an alumna of the Boston University School of Public Health and Teachers College, Columbia University.