Frequently Asked Questions
Visiting Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site
Q: Is a ticket required to tour the theatre?
A: Yes. All visitors two years of age or older must have a ticket to visit Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site. Single tickets can be reserved in advance via Ticketmaster online or by calling (800) 982-2787. Groups of 15 people or more can reserve tickets through our Group Sales office. A limited number of day-of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at our Box Office beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Advance reservations are recommended during tourist season. Please note that entrance to the theatre may be a few minutes later than the ticketed time because of large crowds.
Q: Is admission free?
A: Advance individual tickets are $2.50. Tickets for groups of 15 or more are $2.00. A limited number of free tickets are available at the Ford’s Theatre Box Office beginning at 8:30 a.m. for same-day tickets on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals are limited to six tickets per person for same-day tickets.
Q: What will I see while I am there?
A: A visit to Ford’s Theatre includes entry to the theatre, the Petersen House and the Center for Education and Leadership. Visitors may choose to visit the newly renovated Ford’s Theatre Museum. In addition, Ford’s Theatre offers a variety of programming to its visitors. A visit to Ford’s Theatre may include:
Please note that Ford’s Theatre is a working theatre, and as such the theatre may close occasionally for performances or rehearsals. A detailed schedule is available here.
Q: What is in the museum?
A: The museum tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, from his arrival in Washington in 1861 to the legacy he left. The exhibits also paint a picture of Washington, D.C., and the United States during Lincoln’s presidency. It features a remarkable collection of historic artifacts, including the deringer that John Wilkes Booth used, as well as the clothing and boots that President Lincoln wore the night of his assassination.
Q: What is the Center for Education and Leadership?
The Center is located at 514 10th Street, NW, across the street from the theatre and adjacent to the Petersen House, where Lincoln died. Two floors of permanent exhibits addressing the immediate aftermath of the assassination and the evolution of the Lincoln legacy. Featured exhibits showcase funeral artifacts from the National Park Service collection never before displayed for public viewing; a recreation 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.
Q: What is One Destiny?
A: One Destiny is a 35-minute one-act play featuring two actors. It depicts the events of April 14, 1865, through the eyes of Harry Hawk and Harry Ford, two men who were there.
Q: Will I see the box where President Lincoln sat?
A: Visitors can see the exterior of President’s Lincoln box from both levels of the theatre. The box itself is rarely open to the public in order to conserve and protect the space and its furnishings.
Q: Is the site appropriate for younger children?
A: We recommend the site for children ages 8 and up. The exhibits in our museum and Center for Education and Leadership discuss death, assassination, violence and hanging, which may be inappropriate for younger children. If you are concerned about the content of the exhibits, please let a staff member know when you arrive to the site. Our staff can provide a Family Guide that focuses on content more appropriate for younger audiences.
Q: How long will it take to visit?
A: We recommend allotting the following amount of time:
- Ford’s Theatre Museum: 30-45 minutes
- Ford’s Theatre: 30 minutes
- Petersen House: 15 minutes
- Center for Education and Leadership: 45 minutes
Q: What are your hours?
A: The Box Office opens at 8:30 a.m. (except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). The site opens at 9 a.m. for visits. Final entry into the museum is at 4:00 p.m. Final entry into the theatre is at 4:30 p.m. Final entry with a daytime visit or performance ticket into the Petersen House and Center exhibits is at 5:00 p.m. The site is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, and the theatre may be closed at various times to accommodate rehearsals and performances. For a calendar of events, click here.
Q: Is there food available at the site?
A: Yes. Ford’s Theatre now has concessions, offering beverages and snacks in the lobby areas. Only bottled water is allowed into the exhibit and historic areas.
Q: Is there a place to check oversized bags/luggage at the site?
A: Ford's Theatre does not have a coat check. For safety reasons, we are not allowed to hold oversized bags or luggage for our visitors. For safety and because of space limitations, we do not permit oversized bags or luggage to be taken through the site. We recommend visitors leave their luggage with their hotel.
Visiting Ford’s Theatre for a Performance
Q: How do I purchase tickets?
A: Tickets can be purchased by phone through Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787 or online. A $2 restoration fee per ticket and additional Ticketmaster surcharges apply. The funds raised by the restoration fee ensure that we can continue to upgrade the site, improve accessibility, replace equipment and create a welcoming and safe environment for our visitors. You can also visit the Ford’s Theatre box office in person to purchase tickets.
Q: Are there additional fees if I purchase at the Ford’s Theatre box office?
A: The $2 restoration fee per ticket is also charged at the box office.
Q: Is there a limit to how many tickets I can purchase via Ticketmaster or the Ford’s Theatre Box Office?
A: If you are purchasing a discounted ticket (i.e. senior ticket, military ticket), there is a limit to how many you can purchase. There is also a 10-ticket limit for the run of A Christmas Carol. If you have a group of 15 or more, we suggest you contact our group sales office.
Q: I saw tickets to Ford’s Theatre available on a site other than Ticketmaster. Is it okay to purchase these?
A: Ticketmaster is the official ticket purveyor for Ford’s Theatre events. Only tickets sold by Ticketmaster, Ford’s Theatre and outlets authorized by Ford’s Theatre (such as Goldstar and Ticketplace) will be considered valid. Tickets sold through re-sale outlets and websites may not be honored.
Q: What should I wear to a performance?
A: We have no official "dress code" for attending plays at Ford’s Theatre. Our patrons usually dress in business casual attire. However, we'd rather have a patron come in jeans and a sweatshirt than not come at all out of concern for how they are dressed.
Q: What time should I arrive? What if I am late?
A: We recommend arriving 20 to 30 minutes before the performance begins, so you have time to pick up your tickets, pre-order concessions, visit concessions, the gift shop and the restroom, and find your seat. If you are late, the house manager will seat you at his/her discretion. There are monitors in the lobby that will allow you to watch the action onstage if you are waiting to be seated.
Q: Can I visit the museum, Petersen House and/or the Center when I come for a performance?
A: The Ford's Theatre Museum (located below the historic theatre) is open one hour before performance time and during intermission. Your performance ticket can also be used to visit the Petersen House before 5 p.m. Sometimes, Ford’s Theatre will have a special exhibition related to a performance in the Center for Education and Leadership (located across the street from the theatre). If the special exhibition is related to the performance, a performance ticket also includes access to the Center’s exhibits. Patrons with tickets to an evening performance can visit the Center exhibits beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Center remains open until 6:30 p.m. Matinee patrons can visit the Center’s exhibits before or after the performance. You can find out more about special exhibitions here.
Q: What if I can’t find my ticket?
A: The box office staff can reprint your tickets for you. Please allow additional time to visit the box office when you arrive.
Q: Where do I pick up my tickets? Do I need to show ID or a credit card?
A: The box office is inside the new theatre lobby. Please have a photo ID ready.
Q: Is this show appropriate for younger children?
A: We recommend the following ages for our productions:
- One Destiny: ages 8 and up
- History on Foot: Detective McDevitt: ages 8 and up
- Driving Miss Daisy: ages 10 and up
- A Christmas Carol: ages 5 and up
- The Widow Lincoln: ages 12 and up
- Freedom's Song: ages 10 and up
Ford’s Theatre Society does not permit children younger than five into mainstage performances.
Q: How long is the performance?
A: Approximate run times are:
One Destiny: 35 minutes
A Christmas Carol: 2 hours (including one intermission)
The Widow Lincoln: 2.5 hours (including one intermission)
Freedom’s Song: 90 minutes (no intermission)
Run times for the rest of the 2014-2015 season will be added after the first performance of each.
History on Foot
Q: What is History on Foot?
A: History on Foot is a walking tour of downtown Washington led by an actor in costume portraying a character from the Civil War. Currently, Ford’s Theatre offers one History on Foot tour:
- Detective James McDevitt revisits the sites and clues from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Both public and private tours are offered.
Q: How long are the walking tours?
A: The McDevitt tour lasts approximately 2 hours. The distance walked is approximately 1.5 miles to 1.6 miles. We suggest comfortable shoes.
Q: Does the tour include entry into the Theatre?
A: No. History on Foot may be paired with a theatre entry, but the walking tour does not enter the Theatre. To schedule a visit to the Theatre, click here.
Q: What if I want to go on a History on Foot tour, but I can’t do it at the time they are scheduled?
A: You can reserve a private tour for a group ranging from two to forty for a flat fee of $680. Private tours are subject to actor availability.
Q: Does Ford’s Theatre offer gift certificates?
A: Yes. They are available through the Box Office at (202) 347-4833.
Q: I am with a D.C. school. How do I arrange a visit?
A: All schools in the D.C.-metro area that would like to schedule a visit should email our Education Department or call (202) 638-2941 ext. 537. Ford’s Theatre will waive the convenience fee for advance reservation and subsidize transportation for DC public and public charter schools. DC public and public charter high schools may also be eligible for free tickets and transportation to theatrical performances on select dates. We encourage all DC schools to download our education and community programs brochure from the website or call the number above for more information.
Q: Are firearms allowed at the National Historic Site?
A: Firearms are prohibited in Ford's Theatre, the Petersen House and 517 10th St. Please visit the NPS site for more information.
Craig Wallace and David Selby in "Necessary Sacrifices." Photo by T. Charles Erickson.