Sunday, May 9, 2010


Saturday morning we drove back into the city.   When doing a little research on things to do in Cincinnati, Ohio we saw the usual listing of museums you find in most large U.S. cities:  art museum, history museum, natural history museum, children's museum and so on.  We have already seen some of the best of these, such as the many museums that comprise the Smithsonian in D.C.  In California we've been to the Norton Simon Museum, Getty Museum, other art museums, tar pits museum, natural history museums, aquariums, air and space museums and so on.  So now, we look for a museum that will focus on other topics.  We found a great one here in the downtown area.

We visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.  What an awesome experience.  The Freedom Center is located on the banks of the great Ohio River, which we learned was once the border marking for the free states and the slave states.  The senior price to enter is $10.00.  With admission you get use of their audio tour system which makes self-guiding through the museum easy.  According to the museum's brochure, "our staff and volunteers are dedicated to honoring the legacy of perseverance, courage, and multi-cultural cooperation embodied in the dramatic saga of the Underground Railroad in the years leading up to the Civil War.  We also offer programs to raise awareness about the historic and continuing struggle to establish universal freedom in both the United States and around the world."  

The quote on the building says, "We must remember, because if the world forgets evil, evil is reborn.

The museum is 158,000 square feet of displays, artifacts, films, collections, and personal stories about slavery.  The ground floor is the entry level, gift shop, and cafe.  There are many stairs in this museum, but there is also an elevator for the disabled or elderly.  They even have wheelchairs available for visitors to use.

The second floor has a couple of great films and more displays.  One of the featured displays here is the Slave Pen.  This is a 177-year-old building discovered in Mason County, Kentucky.  It was used to house slaves who were to be sold.  It has a loft area in the top section and the men were shackled side by side up there and could not move.  The women slaves stayed down below to cook and do what they could for their men chained above.  The slave traders knew the women wouldn't run away and leave their men.  The displays on this floor describe how the Underground Railroad began (which was neither underground nor a railroad) and who the people were who worked with this system.  

On the third floor are two more short films and displays tracing 3 centuries of slavery.  These displays describe who the enslaved people were, how they came here, how they lived and worked and how they ultimately won freedom.

Also on the third floor was a special exhibit titled Without Sanctuary, Lynching Photography in America.  This was a very somber display of photographs and writings describing the lynching of African Americans throughout our history.  Here the historians have traced the origins of lynching and the exhibit introduces the viewer to the horrors of the Lynching Era as it was called.  This was a disturbing exhibit to visit, but so important to know about.  There was a man from the museum doing some filming in these rooms and he stopped me to ask where we were visiting from.  I told him and then he asked if I would consent to answer some questions on film for him. I got in front of the bright lights and held the microphone while he asked a few questions.  I guess it was good enough because he said they would be using that video in the museum and it could also be seen on the local Fox 19 channel here in the city.  Scary thought, but I won't be seeing either.  

We are so glad we found this museum and took the time to do the tour.  We were there for about 3 hours and were enlightened and educated on a piece of our nation's history we knew very little about.  I hope anyone who comes to Cincinnati will take the time to visit the Freedom Center. 

Until next long for now!


Rick and Paulette said...

Thanks for letting us know about the Underground Railway Museum in Cincinnati. If I ever get to Ohio, this museum will definitely be on my 'must visit' list. Still hard to believe slavery existed for 300 years! Just curious, did the museum allow taking photos? Some do, some don't and since you didn't post any I was just wondering.

Sam&Donna Weibel said...

Way to go Margie,always knew you were movie star material, looks like a great place to visit. If you get a chance go to the Cincinatti Union Train Station, one of the few Art Deco era stations preserved, we liked it a lot. Have fun, Sam & Donna

Happytrails said...

Thank you for the tour of the Underground Railway Museum in Cincinnati. History was my favorite subject to teach and if we don't know history we are inclined to repeat it. We will put this museum on our "to see" list.

Continue to enjoy the journey and stay safe!

Mike & Gerri (happytrails)

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

Ahhh a movie star! Can I have your autograph???

Perhaps the local channel has a video feed on their website and your clip might be on there?

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

Jerry and Suzy said...

The Undeground Railroad has been a point of interest to us, although we have really seen very little of it in traveling. That museum has been on our list for a long time. Hope we get to Cincinnati before we have to hang up the keys!

Laurie and Odel said...

Margie, after you left a comment on my blog about the Freedom Center, I came right here to read your entry. Wasn't that place something? The lynching photo exhibit just took my breath away - brutal, brutal, brutal!

I found it difficult to view much of the material of the center, and very difficult to adequately describe it in writing. So worth a visit, but so hard to absorb.

Our shared experience is my first introduction to your blog, and I'll look forward to studying at my leisure.

Safe travels, Laurie