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The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati

Posted by 
Anita Durairaj
Anita Durairaj
Man's Hands and ChainsPhoto by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

If you are a history buff, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center museum in Cincinnati is not to be missed,

The museum is located at 50 E Freedom Way in a central part of Cincinnati. The building itself is perched by the Ohio River so you get to see the pretty river view.

The museum is a celebration of freedom and depicts the times from the days of the Underground Railroad to more recent times.

Here is what you can expect to see when you visit the Freedom Center.


The Freedom Center first opened in Cincinnati in 2004. I remember when the museum opened up. I was a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati and it was the talk of the town then.

The museum belongs to a select group of museums in the United States that are termed "museums of conscience." It belongs in the same league as the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum.

The location of the Freedom Center in Cincinnati is especially poignant because Cincinnati played an important role in the Underground Railroad. It was where thousands of slaves escaped from the South by crossing the Ohio River.

Visiting the Freedom Center

Tripadvisor has ranked the Freedom Center as #19 out of more than 170 things to do in Cincinnati. The high ranking is certainly deserved. There are so many exhibits on 3 floors that describe modern-day slavery as well as slavery as we know it from Civil War times. The museum isn't just about slavery in America. It also depicts the slavery that was found in Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean.

The saddest part of the museum is the slave pen that they have on exhibit. The slave pen was where slaves were kept temporarily until they could be sold at the market. The slave pen at the Freedom Center is an original little structure that was first found in Germantown, Kentucky. It was then moved to the Freedom Center and became a part of its collection.

The slave pen still contains the rings in its structure that were used to shackle slaves so that they could not escape. It really shows that conditions were inhumane and beyond deplorable for the slaves.

The museum is rated highly at 4.6 stars out of 5 on the websites Tripadvisor and Google Reviews.

COVID precautions are currently in place. Face masks are required for all visitors and social distancing is easy to do because the museum is large and spacious.

The museum is great for adults and kids alike. While the subject matter is certainly dark and depressing, kids as young as 10 can understand the history and message that the museum is trying to convey. For others, it can also be emotional to visit the museum and see these exhibits.

Some visitors have mentioned that there is a lot of reading that needs to be done at the exhibits and that it is not as straightforward as just seeing the artifacts and documents.

If you are in Cincinnati, definitely check out the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Sources: Cincinnati USA, Arts and Culture