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Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership set to open

Photo by Ben Strasser, courtesy U.S. Air Force

WASHINGTON — After a ribbon cutting and private opening and the world premiere of a newly commissioned play about Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass earlier in the month, the new Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership will open to the public Feb. 21.

The center, housed in a building directly across 10th Street from Ford’s Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865, will feature permanent and rotating exhibits, education studios and a distance-learning lab.

The two floors of permanent exhibits address the immediate aftermath of Lincoln’s death and the evolution of Lincoln’s legacy. Featured exhibits will showcase funeral artifacts from the National Park Service collection never before displayed for public viewing; a re-creation of the Virginia tobacco barn wherein John Wilkes Booth was ultimately captured and killed; and a Lincoln Memorial Theatre exploring Lincoln’s power to effect social change.

A centerpiece of the center will be a 34-foot-tall tower of books sculpture containing cover photos of approximately 6,800 books, most of which are histories and biographies about Lincoln, made from bent aluminum.

A Leadership Gallery will be used for rotating exhibits, lectures and receptions.

The center will also have two floors of education studios to house pre- and post-visit workshops and a distance-learning lab outfitted with state-of-the-art technology.

“For more than 40 years, visitors have traveled to Ford’s Theatre from all over the world, eager to learn more about Abraham Lincoln and his presidency,” said Ford’s Theatre director Paul R. Tetreault. “Now, with the addition of the Center for Education and Leadership, learners of all ages can delve deeper into our compelling American history through new exhibits, engaging videos and creative programming offered by the Ford’s Theatre Society Education Department.”

The center completes that expansion of Ford’s Theatre that included the 2009 restoration and renovation of the theater with new seats, improved accessibility, upgraded amenities and a new stage system, and a renovated museum with interactive exhibits.