National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Situated on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a truly unique museum dedicated to celebrating the heroes who fight for freedom throughout a history of slavery, both during the days of Underground Railroad activities and present-day human trafficking. While there is much to learn about African-American heritage in Cincinnati at the center, the exhibits are ultimately meant to inspire visitors to take steps for freedom today and every day.

The Slave Pen

Shackles in the Slave Pen at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
Shackles in the Slave Pen at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

Originally built in 1830, the two-floor slave pen is housed entirely within the museum. The prison was once used to house slaves as their owners waited for the trading market to become more favorable. Replica shackles adorn the original floors and serve as a stoic reminder to a darker time in American history.

Tom Feelings and Tyron Geter Mural

Tom Feelings and Tyron Geter Mural at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
Tom Feelings and Tyron Geter Mural at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

Towering over museum visitors, the mural was created by artist Tyron Geter based on a sketch by fellow artist Tom Feelings just before he passed away. The mural serves to document the journey of an African American slave in America from arrival to auction to family separation and forced labor.

Slavery Today Exhibit

Modern Slavery at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
Modern Slavery at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center doesn't focus solely on the plight of slaves in American history and the Underground Railroad, but also on how slavery still can be found in the world today. A walk through "Invisible: Slavery Today" provides visitors with a guide on how slavery can still be found in the modern era all across the world. 

The Eternal Flame

Eternal Flame at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
Eternal Flame at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

Located on the museum's third floor and overlooking a scenic view of the Ohio River and Kentucky shoreline, the museum's eternal flame is representative of the candles that were placed in the windows of Underground Railroad operators. 

History of the Slave Trade

History of Slavery at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
History of Slavery at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

One of the museum's key attractions is a walk-through exhibit documenting the rise and fall of the slave trade in the United States and North America. Starting with the European colonization of Africa, the exhibit follows the journey of slaves from their homeland to aiding the Union in the American Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement of the mid 20th Century.

Unique Artwork

Karen Heyl's "Flight To Freedom" at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
Karen Heyl's "Flight To Freedom" at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

Among the exhibits and artifacts, you will also find unique examples of art throughout the center's halls such as Karen Heyl's "Flight To Freedom" limestone carvings.

"The Quilts" aka "Journeys I and II."

Journeys I and II at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
Journeys I and II at Freedom Center (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

Another of the museum's unique fine art pieces, "Journeys I and II" is an ongoing piece created by artist Aminah Brenda Lynn. The pieces document historical moments in history as well as Lynn's own experiences in life.

A Piece of the Berlin Wall

The Freedom Center's Piece of the Berlin Wall (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
The Freedom Center's Piece of the Berlin Wall (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

A gift from the city of Berlin, the museum features a piece of the wall that signified the Cold War's "Iron Curtain" and once divided East and West Germany for nearly thirty years.

Unique Skyline Views

Freedom Center views (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)
Freedom Center views (photo: Ronald M. Salerno)

Aside from the museum's one-of-a-kind artwork, exhibits, attractions and architecture, the center also features a unique view and angle of the downtown Cincinnati skyline.

Written by Ronny Salerno of Queen City Disco(very).