Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
We went to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center yesterday.
They have free admission on 1/17/22 for MLK Day, but we were worried it would be too crowded, so we went the Sunday before.
“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”, Winston Churchill wrote. Everyone has a bias, even the history books and museums; we wanted to expand the kids’ views and to expose them to all different views of history so that they could learn, research, think for themselves, and listen to all points of view. Each museum has been a different experience, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect of the Freedom Center.
I will say we were pleasantly surprised. I thought the spacing throughout the Center was very nice and that there was nice mix of props (statues, cotton bales, buildings, maps, a few artifacts). There was a lot of factual information, along with some personal anecdotes.
The third floor is where most of the exhibits are and where they recommend you start your visit. The Center did a pretty good job with decorations around the exhibits and movie screens to set the scene. There is an outdoor terrace that has a great view of the Ohio River and Suspension Bridge. It also has Freedom’s Eternal Flame (a gas fueled flame). The Terrace was closed while we were there; of course, it was about 28 degrees outside.
The 3rd floor also had an modern day slavery exhibit that went over Forced Labor, Child Labor, Sex Trafficking, Bonded Labor, and Domestic Servitude. The crazy statistic that I saw was that 59% of online recruitment for sex trafficking victims was on Facebook.
The second floor had a Pavilion, which is currently closed. There was a Slave Pen (an original structure brought into the Center) that you could walk into. The inside was very empty, other than a wooden box that had some shackles in it. There were several films available on the 2nd floor. You first walk into a waiting room and listen to a short film with Oprah Winfrey. The doors automatically open to go to the next theater. I thought the movies were well done. One of the theater rooms was even decorated with trees to help set the mood for the film.
There were only a few interactive exhibits. I think there is a lot of opportunity to do several more interactive exhibits. (For example: an example of hidden stairs and rooms that you could walk through, touching cotton plants.) There were some visual aids, but it was mostly reading. It was definitely an older child/adult type of museum in terms of attention level and retention. It would have been nice to see a map of known Underground Railroad stops in Cincinnati. Ben and I both knew of two, but I’m sure there plenty more.
There is small store on the main floor. (The postcards were $3 each, which I think is the most expensive postcard we have bought!)
- WHERE: 50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
- HOURS: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
- COSTS: $15/adult, $10.50/children ages 3-12, under 3 free. (Family Season Pass is $65)
- PARKING: Yes (Paid parking available on-street or nearby parking garages.)
- BATHROOM: Yes (On our visit, only the 3rd floor bathrooms were open.)
- TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-3 hours
- COVID RESTRICTIONS: Masks are required (as of January 2022).
- *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
- Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
- Fort Sumter (the start of the Civil War)
- Confederate Memorial Hall Museum (An interesting take on others side of the Civil War.)