SPRINGFIELD – Christina M. Shutt, the director of the African American history and culture museum in Arkansas, has been selected to lead the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the ALPLM’s Board of Trustees announced Friday.
Shutt has been executive director of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock since 2016 and guided it through the complex process of earning national accreditation, making it only the ninth Black culture museum in the United States to earn such a designation.
She previously served as Associate Librarian for Special Collections and Instruction at Hendrix College and has worked in a variety of special collections, including the Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard University. Shutt holds two master’s degrees, one in history and the other in library science/archives management, from Simmons University.
She will be the fifth executive director at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the first person of color to hold the title.
“Christina Shutt brings tremendous expertise to the job, as well as new perspectives on how to interpret the life, legacy and lessons of Abraham Lincoln,” said Ray LaHood, chairman of the ALPLM Board of Trustees. “We are thrilled to have her guiding a great institution dedicated to an even greater man.”
Shutt, 34, was unanimously selected Friday by the board after a nationwide search. Her appointment requires approval by the Illinois Senate.
She called her selection a tremendous honor.
“You can’t truly understand America without understanding Abraham Lincoln’s impact on the nation,” Shutt said. “I’m excited to help share Lincoln’s enduring legacy and his relevancy for today.”
“Museums play an important, often overlooked, role in the community. The ALPLM’s path forward must include cultivating partnerships with our neighbors in Springfield and central Illinois,” Shutt added. “We should also step forward in the larger community of institutions that are exploring new ways to share history and ensure it includes all voices.”
Governor JB Pritzker praised Shutt’s selection.
“After a nationwide search for the best candidate to shape the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s 21st century legacy, Illinois is elated to welcome Christina Shutt and her family to Springfield,” Pritzker said. ”A barrier-breaker in her own right, Christina comes to the ALPLM with formidable experience in lifting up historically marginalized voices and ensuring they are heard and understood in the greater American narrative – and in turn, the American present. Abraham Lincoln’s legacy is not only a critical piece of comprehending our nation’s past; but also in understanding how to navigate our future. I have every faith in Christina as the best person to guide ALPLM forward and help make the life and legacy of Lincoln more accessible to all Illinoisans. We are proud that she has chosen to call Illinois home.”
Shutt is scheduled to start the new job in early June.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.