Go back to the time of Lincoln

Jeansoe Pradel, 13, exits a replica of the train car that carried President Lincoln's coffin around the country. The display is part of the new Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership Center in Washington. Illustrates KIDSPOST-LINCOLN (category l), by Tracy Grant (c) 2012, The Washington Post. Moved Thursday, March 29, 2012. (MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Linda Davidson)

WASHINGTON – What if you could walk through a door and be transported to another time?

We’re not talking about some portal of the future. Instead, we’re talking about taking a trip to the past, and you can do that right now in Washington.

Step off the elevator at the new Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership and you’ll find yourself on a narrow, brick sidewalk on the morning of April 15, 1865. Church bells toll. Gas street lamps flicker. Overhead telegraph wires crackle with news of the day, like an old-fashioned versi.

On this morning , the news of the day is very big and very sad: President Abraham Lincoln has been assassinated.

At the end of the street you see a train car. Step inside. Rest your hand on the flag that covers the reproduction of the president’s coffin. You can almost feel the train moving as it carries Lincoln’s body through 180 cities and seven states before arriving in Springfield, Ill., where the president would be buried.

Your journey of almost 150 years back in time is about to end, but there’s still much to discover at this new, beautiful and interactive museum.

Pop culture president Can you imagine Abe Lincoln as a comic book superhero like Spider-Man? Would you wear shoes with Lincoln’s face on them? Have you ever seen Abraham Lincoln as a bobblehead doll?

As silly as these things may sound, you can see them all in a display case that shows how the 16th president has become part of popular culture.

Before you leave this level, stop to watch a short video called “The Unfinished Work.” People young and old speak words as a kind of poetry while photographs from history flash and fade on the screens.

You can leave the four-minute program with a better understanding of why Lincoln was so important then, and why he is still so important now.