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“Great collection, not as user friendly as you would hope”

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
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The Nati in a Nutshell Cincinnati Food Tour Including Carew Tower Entrance Fee
Ranked #12 of 191 things to do in Cincinnati
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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.
Reviewed September 6, 2013

We really loved this place, but it was a bit difficult to get started. Desk person said you were meant to start on second floor. Do not follow this advice if it's what you are told. It's like coming into the middle of the story! Go immediately to the third floor where you begin with the beginning of the story of slavery in the colonies and progress through reconstruction. The second floor exhibits flesh out the story and highlight many important people, places and events...but the third floor exhibits give you the complete historical context to make sense of these stories. Good films, amazing artifacts and some electrifying art! Bookstore/gift shop also a real highlight and the building itself is magnificent. Sitting in a window seeing the river with Kentucky just across the bridge is very meaningful. Don't miss it, but be sure to get the full impact by getting the whole story!

Thank mkb219
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 4, 2013

Do expect to spend some time there----use the app---it is great to use when you visit. It helps so much to create what it was like back in the day. I think they did a great job of looking at slavery in a variety of angles---slaves, political aspects, those involved in being part of the underground railroad, slave owners etc. After the visit---it made us look at the Ohio River in a different light.

Thank lizzerdz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2013

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a national treasure. Located strategically in Cincinnati, this museum is across the Ohio River from Kentucky. The river separated the slaves states from the free states in the 18th and 19th centuries. For runaway slaves the Ohio was "the River Jordan" and they only had to cross it to reach freedom and the promised land. This center has had a number of fine exhibits over the years including a gruesome one on lynching titled "Without Sanctuary." This is the area of the real story "Beloved" where Margaret Garner escaped and killed one of her own children to prevent the child from growing up as a slave. This is near Ripley, Ohio where the true story of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" took place as Eliza Harris escaped on the frozen Ohio River with her baby in her arms.
This is a must see for history buffs. Be sure to allow a couple of hours to see everything in this wonderful museum.

Thank Gent258
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2013

This is one of the most beautiful and inspiring museums I've ever visited. When you visit, make sure you have the time to REALLY look around. There's so much to see. Please take your kids there to make them aware of the past!!!

Thank HaveBeachWillTravel1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 3, 2013

My husband and I went to Cincinnati for a shopping trip on Labor Day but wanted to also do something uniquely local. We hadn't expected it to be quite so large (we were rushed to go through in the 1.5 hours before it closed) and were pleasantly surprised to find such a professional museum that effectively showed the continuing relevance of its topic.

Admission for adults is $12 (no concessions for students), which might be a little pricey for the Midwest, but I've paid a lot more for museums around the world. There's a lot to see for the money. The museum consists of three large floors and includes a number of theaters, plus displays about the slave trade, the Underground RR, the Civil War, and modern-day slavery. Our favorite exhibition was the latter. The stories of enslaved individuals are powerful, and the displays are as much works of art as any painting hanging on the wall. The exhibition was a powerful reminder of why the issue of slavery still matters and that we can't just "move on."

Though we really liked our visit, there were a few reasons I didn't give it the full five stars. Firstly, the name is a bit of a misnomer: relatively little of the museum is actually about the Underground RR. (The other exhibits are also interesting though!) Also, the traffic flow was often unclear, especially coming off the stairs and near the holding pen. This makes it hard to follow the "story" or know what you're seeing. The displays are also very text-heavy, even for someone like me who will gladly read quite a lot of text. Though there are some hands-on activities, I can imagine that this would make the museum less interesting for children or even some adults.

Despite these problems, we were sincerely surprised that the museum was almost empty on a holiday weekend. In a way, I'm not surprised, based off of some of the more negative reviews on this site, but I am disappointed. Part of the problem may be the Center's location. It's beautifully situated on the river, but it's located between two stadiums and doesn't necessarily fit the vibe of the rest of the neighborhood. (It also can be hard to find a parking spot if there's a game.) Even so, I appreciate the juxtaposition of these "fun" and "serious" activities and don't lament the loss of space for a few more sports bars. What's more, I'd hope that more visitors can recognize that "serious" need not mean "depressing." Unfortunately, too many people often think that talking about slavery requires lots of preachiness and guilt-tripping. However, this is not what this museum is doing. Yes, its displays can be disturbing; they should be. Nevertheless, the curators seemed like they were genuinely trying to let visitors draw their own conclusions. For example, there was a photo of some slave quarters in a display showing how slaves lived. The caption noted that the building was now being turned into a B&B. There was a lot to potentially say about how the remodeling seems to romanticize slavery (especially for a profit), but the writer let readers draw their own conclusions.

All in all, this relatively new museum tackles an important subject in a sophisticated manner. It's an asset to the city, and I hope it thrives.

Thank cheesqueen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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