Peoria Welcomes ‘God Bless America’

The Peoria Riverfront Museum said goodbye to the Return Visit statue featuring Abraham Lincoln and the Common Man, and welcomed the statue God Bless America.

“We are watching Abe depart, and in his stead we are bringing in another Midwest son,” said Bill Conger, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Riverfront Museum.

1470 & 100.3 WMBD/Kristina Leahy

God Bless America is sculptor Seward Johnson’s 25 foot three dimensional interpretation of the painting American Gothic.

The original painting by Grant Wood, shows an Indiana farmer, a pitchfork, and a woman believed to be either the man’s wife or daughter.

1470 & 100.3 WMBD/Kristina Leahy

Conger said this statue has a purpose.

“It is really about confidence. It’s about pride. And the museum serves as a point of pride for our community,” Conger said. “(They) will look East towards the farmlands”.

1470 & 100.3 WMBD/Kristina Leahy

Like Return Visit, the God Bless America statue travels around the country.

“These are temporary installations of these works. They’re really designed to go amongst the world and kind of communicate with other communities,” Conger said.

Conger said they had a number of donors step in.

“I believe that they’re responding to the pride, the idea that we need to take hold of our community and talk about it, and talk about it in a positive way,” Conger said. “And this is their way of helping us talk about what we are about here”.

Lincoln and his friend will be installed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield May 22 and will be on display there until September 2020.

1470 & 100.3 WMBD/Kristina Leahy

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