Image courtesy of Ford’s Theatre
By Maisy Sullivan
“Sic Semper Tyrannis!” yells Confederate ally John Wilkes Booth, as he jumps down from the balcony in Ford’s Theatre. The President has been shot! On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot dead by Booth in none other than Ford’s Theatre. Contemporarily, it serves as a historical landmark and museum for tourists to visit.
Like other museums and establishments, COVID-19 caused Ford’s Theatre to close temporarily as a safety measure. As of this week, the theatre and museum are back up and running! Though they are operating on a limited schedule, open Wednesday through Sunday, the experience makes it worthwhile.
If you are planning to visit the history-filled city of Washington, D.C. anytime soon, Ford’s Theatre is a place you can’t leave out. The beautiful Victorian-style theatre features many original elements that date back to before the Civil War period. From the auditorium seats, the balcony on which John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln is visible, which is embellished with flags as well as a perfectly replicated portrait of George Washington that was hanging at the time of the assassination. After hearing a detailed account of that fateful night, visitors are allowed to browse the museum below the stage.
In the museum, you will find a variety of artifacts relating to Abraham Lincoln, the conspiracy to kill him, and the time period itself. Among those artifacts is the pistol used to kill the president, the bloody pillow he laid on during the attempt to revive him, and Booth’s boot that was ripped while he jumped down onto the stage from the balcony. Along with the historical items, the museum holds detailed descriptions of each artifact, as well as descriptions of the conspirators and their fates.
Though the neighboring Petersen House and Aftermath Exhibits are currently closed, they should definitely be on your agenda when you return to D.C. after the pandemic. Both exhibits provide a deep dive into the past, authentically replicating the time period of the Civil War.
In terms of health and safety precautions amidst Ford’s Theatre’s reopening, employees are working hard to make this landmark safe for all. They are sticking to a strict cleaning schedule, performing temperature checks at the door, and utilizing contactless check-in. As for visitors, they must take part to ensure safety as well. Purchase tickets in advance, stay home if you feel sick, follow instructions, maintain 6 feet between other groups, and wear your mask. Just like any other place you may have visited in the past few months, Ford’s Theatre is creating a healthy environment for all. Along with these measures, hand sanitizing stations are abundant throughout the theatre, and employees are even still available to answer your questions about the experience (from 6 feet away, of course!).
For more detailed information, visit Ford’s Theatre’s official website.