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Arts & Life

Lincoln's theater seat in rare, free exhibit at The Henry Ford

worn red rocking chair
Flickr user jodelli
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Flickr

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated 150 years ago this week. The chair Lincoln was sitting in that fateful night at Ford's Theatre is now one of the most visited artifacts on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

And this week, you'll be able to get a better-than-usual look at the historic red chair.

The seat is usually on display in an airtight case, but for one day only, tomorrow (April 15), the chair will be on a pedestal in open air so that audiences can have a better view. The museum will be free for all guests all day so that everyone has a chance to have this rare, up-close experience.

The chair's journey to Michigan, and The Henry Ford museum was a long process. The red rocker was not an original part of the theater. Instead, president of The Henry Ford, Patricia Mooradian, says it was brought by the owners from their home that night special for Lincoln so that he could enjoy the play in comfort.

After his assassination, the seat was taken by the government to be used as evidence. In 1929, it was reclaimed by the widow of the Ford's Theatre, and shortly after was sold at auction to Henry Ford himself. Mooradian notes that the Ford families were not related.

In 1929, the museum opened, the same year Henry Ford added the chair to his growing collection.

"Here at The Henry Ford we often say we're about the future, but you have to understand your past in order to make that future better," Mooradian says.

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