|The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center|
|The main lobby was quite impressive|
|The Slave Pen|
Further setting the stage for this exhibit, we watched a brief video of a re-enacted slave escape towards the Underground Railroad, which set the stage for the information presented in the various exhibits to come.
The gallery included a recreated house showing how slaves would hide under the house floor, a wagon showing how slaves would hide under false floors, and a plethora of displays on how slaves & freedom fighters would work together to resist slavery and free those enslaved.
Invisible: Slavery Today. Before visiting this museum I had never thought of slavery still existing today, but as I would come to learn, it certainly does in many forms. This exhibit, the first of its kind in the world to focus solely on slavery today, was themed as an old warehouse emulating the ambiance that many trafficked slaves would encounter during holding and transport. It certainly had a grim feel to it, which was pushed on by the horrifying stories of real people who endured slavery in the modern era.
The exhibit ends with a more hopeful exhibit highlighting those that are fighting slavery today. These exhibits showcased the people and organizations that are leading the way to ending slavery around the world, and detailed some very inspiring stories.
Although this gallery was quite saddening, it was both highly informative and hands-on. The combination of stories from real people, aptly appropriate ambiance of the gallery, and hands-on activities really made for a top-notch exhibit that truly changed how slavery is framed in my mind.
|Modern day Abolitionists|
Next up was a temporary exhibit Music of Change: Hymns, Blues & Rock which showcased the artifacts and stories music has played within social movements. The exhibit concludes with a dedicated children’s area; in fact, we found numerous hands-on activities for kids throughout this museum, which certainly helped make it a great visit for our toddler as well as mom and dad!
|Playing the drums in a dedicated children's area|
|One of the many exhibits in From Slavery to Freedom|
Each exhibit featured a completely different look and feel, and offered a wealth of new information (new to me anyway). Certainly this will be a museum we will have to return to one day when our toddler is learning about these periods of American history, as this exhibit did a fantastic job of educating us about the history of slavery in America.
From Slavery to Freedom was probably the most impressive exhibit in the museum, and is on par with exhibits at other leading history museums around the world. However, in looking back and reflecting on our visit to this amazing museum, I found Invisible: Slavery Today to be the most effective museum exhibit I have visited in quite some time. It certainly changed my view of slavery; maybe I was a bit naïve, but until visiting this exhibit I had never thought of slavery still existing today, nor did I know how prevalent it was around the world.
We ended our visit to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center by stepping outside on their 3rd level terrace to view an enduring flame and to look out over the river. It was certainly a memorable experience, and a museum I know we will visit again when our son is older and can learn from it himself. Although the topics covered within this museum can be very somber, they were highly educational and eye-opening while also concluding with stories and exhibits focused on hope.