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National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Central Business District)
513 333 7500
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Ranked #15 of 63 Attractions in Cincinnati
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: History museums, Museums
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Attraction details
Owner description: Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center stands as the nation's newest monument to freedom. It brings to life the importance - and relevance - of struggles for freedom around the world and throughout history, including today.
Middletown, Ohio
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
20 attraction reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Nostalgia”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2012

It is an important part of our history that some of the good people in this area helped the slaves escape their hideous plight. Instead of showing the minorities how we helped in the past what say we help the ones who need help now?

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English first
Cincinnati, Ohio
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Worth the trip”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 16, 2012

Terrific exhibtis. They do a good job of telling the story. Most museums are just aritifacts and pictures, but they have audio and other sensory exhibits so you are immersed. Items are around you and not just behind a glass.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Detroit, Michigan
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“A Bit Sobering But Excellent”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2012

This museum is wonderful. First, it is in the perfect location--right across the Ohio River in Cincinnati which is where many slaves crossed over into freedom. Second, it is reasonably priced ($12) and provides an ipod for an audio and visual walk along exhibit. The exhibits are all well done. Third, it is not so much about the underground railroad, but also about the perseverance, courage, and cooperation with others that it took to make this endeavor a success. It has a real universal theme quality. If you own an iphone, you may want to download the app from the website and use it to follow along. It does take some time to see. I would recommend arriving close to the time when it opens. We arrived at 11:30 and didn't see everything when we decided to leave after 3:00 pm. We plan on returning. We stayed at the Hilton Netherland Plaza which is a close walk (4-5 blocks) away.

Visited November 2012
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Maryland
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Give it a lot of time”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2012

I went by myself and had a little over 1 1/2 hours. It wasn't enough. Especially if you tried to use the free audio tour and saw the different videos(which I really liked). Good background of slavery and the history of it.

Visited November 2012
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Indiana
Top Contributor
178 reviews 178 reviews
37 attraction reviews
Reviews in 93 cities Reviews in 93 cities
116 helpful votes 116 helpful votes
“Lacks emotional connection, exhibits largely unmoving”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2012

I was really disappointed in the Freedom Center overall, I can see why they have difficulty attracting visitors. Most of the displays that have to do with the history of slavery in the United States seem juvenile, underdesigned, and a bit dated -- even though the museum itself is rather new. "Underground Railroad" is a bit of a misnomer, because the part of the museum devoted to the underground railroad is actually quite small.

One of the most moving exhibits is found at the very beginning of the museum, the slave cabin. Being able to walk inside the cabin really paints the picture for you of the absolutely horrific conditions, and what the imprisoned slaves were experiencing. Unfortunately, our visit was marred by one of the museum workers (who appear to be elderly volunteers) who got too preachy and political about the repercussions of slavery today. Not that she didn't have a valid point, but it was clear that not everyone shared her perspective and it made people uncomfortable. One poor couple was the last left near her, and they struggled for a few minutes to graciously get away. I don't think many people expect to come to a place like this to be yelled at.

Bring headphones to make the most of the free iPod touch audio guides, otherwise you find yourself too connected to the device and not really experiencing the exhibits. With headphones, you can let the device hang and listen to the narration while you look around. The production quality of the various films in little theaters varied greatly. The best one was the Ohio river escape, with an introduction by Oprah Winfrey. It was one of the few times where the feelings of fear, anxiety, courage, were conveyed in a way that allowed the museumgoer to truly empathize with the plight of the runaway slave. The worst was midnight decision, which had all the polish of a Rescue 911 reenactment.

The absolute best portion of the entire museum was the exhibit on the third floor about slavery today. It was much more engaging, told personal stories about people enslaved, had more sensory stimulation, and resulted in a more moving, connective experience. You walk away from that exhibit with tears in your eyes, thinking about ways that you can do more to contribute to the cause. And that's what you'd expect from a place called Freedom Center.

Visited November 2012
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