This weekend Amy and I headed to Cincinnati to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. It was being built while we lived in Cincinnati, but we moved before it opened and for some reason we hadn’t yet made it back to the museum.
My first comment is simple. Allow more than two hours. We had planned to meet friends in the afternoon – and we thought that two hours would be sufficient (but not ample) time to work through the museum. Not that in my head I was belittling how much info there is about the Underground Railroad – we just didn’t know what to expect.
The Freedom Center is absolutely gorgeous. It is located in downtown Cincinnati directly between the two stadiums. We already knew the exterior was attractive – as we saw it while we watched the Reds lose on many occasions. But the inside matches. It is absolutely stunning. I am really not sure how to do it justice. I am a huge fan of the Ghery designed Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain – and this building at least matches in “awe” factor.
The cost to enter is $10 for educators, $12 for all you “normal” people. At first I was thinking that seemed high, especially since so many national museums and monuments are free to taxpayers, but I felt like I did get my money’s worth – and it would have been better if I had been there longer.
There were many times that I felt myself getting emotional at the museum. It’s not worth going into depth on those – because I know that everybody has their own emotional response. But, this got me thinking. Do people get enough out of this museum, or is the point of it lost in history?
It is easy to say that slavery sucked, and thank goodness we are past it (I think). But doesn’t it deserve more? And what about the kids that go to the museum. Do they understand what slavery is…what it was? The sheer magnitude of it – or is lost to them? There is so much to learn, understand and try to appreciate – but is that opportunity taken advantage of?
The more I thought about the, the more frustrated I was. I think that we did US History in the 8th grade and then junior year of high school. I don’t remember much about what I was taught – which I guess is my point. I’m not really looking for an answer – just sort of thinking out loud.
Anyway – I wanted to list a few things that I learned at the museum; Oprah cannot read a teleprompter very well; slaves were more expensive the further south you went; the final destination of the UGR was actually Canada – not just north of the Ohio; it’s hard to be a white male in a museum like that and not feel guilty; and so much more.