The National Park Service will build an immersive museum below the Lincoln Memorial that it expects will open in 2026—the 250th anniversary of US independence. The Park Service announced on Presidents Day that it has awarded a contract for the work, which it expects will cost around $69 million.
The new exhibition space will be carved out of the memorial’s undercroft, a massive space that supports the memorial on land that was drained and filled toward the beginning of the 20th century. Its subfoundation holds 122 concrete piers that go down to bedrock, with a second set of piers that rest on those columns that are joined by arches that hold up the memorial’s floor.
The museum will take up 15,000 square feet of the nearly 44,000 square feet below the monument. It will hold exhibits on the memorial’s construction and the Lincoln Memorial’s history as a backdrop for civil rights demonstrations. There will also be a shop, bigger bathrooms, and a new elevator to the chamber.
Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein donated $18.5 million to renovate the memorial in 2016. That gift will be combined with $43 million from the National Park Foundation, $38.5 million from private donors, and $26 million from NPS to get the exhibition space built. The memorial will remain open during construction, though the current basement exhibits and restrooms will close this spring. The Park Service will install temporary restrooms and an accessible lift during construction.