Cincinnati, Ohio – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located in downtown Cincinnati, on the banks of the Ohio River.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center announced June 12 it will reopen July 24. The news comes after what has already been a three-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Freedom Center works toward its opening date, it is taking steps to ensure guests’ next visit will be safe and comfortable.
“The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a place of understanding and dialogue, where we confront our past in order to build a better, more equitable future and the climate we find our country in now makes our mission especially vital,” says Woodrow Keown, Jr., president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “We’re working diligently to reopen our museum in a safe and responsible way so that we can welcome our community home and work together for inclusive freedom.”
Among the steps the Freedom Center is taking to keep its guests and staff safe upon reopening is instituting timed tickets, which they are encouraging guests to purchase online. Timed tickets will help manage crowd capacity. The Freedom Center is using data on the average length of visit and updated building capacity according to social distancing guidelines to determine the number of tickets sold each hour. In the weeks after reopening, the Freedom Center will reevaluate ticket levels to adjust accordingly. Signage and floor markings will further help guests maintain the proper six feet of distance between groups. Additionally, theater seating has been altered to give guests six feet between each other. However, the status of the 300-seat Harriet Tubman Theater has not been decided, though the museum is hopeful it can reopen in a limited capacity.
Extensive cleaning protocols will ensure the building is cleaned and sanitized multiple times per day, including particular attention to high touchpoint areas like doors, elevators, handrails, countertops and restrooms. The Freedom Center is currently working to make all restrooms and hand sanitizer stations touchless. The Freedom Center is also amending operating days and hours so the building can undergo deep cleaning before opening each day and after close. For the safety of guests and colleagues, masks will be worn by Freedom Center staff at all times and they are asking guests to please do the same.
Due to their high-touch nature, some museum experiences will be altered or closed completely. Many of the museum’s interactives will either be made touchless or updated with foot pedals. Featured exhibition Motel X – which focuses on the combatting human trafficking through awareness and education – is also being updated to remove touch-based interactives but has been extended through September 7. The Rosa Parks Experience, an immersive virtual experience commemorating the Civil Rights icon’s historic demonstration on a Montgomery bus, will not be available upon reopening.
The Freedom Center will continue to share updates on its reopening procedures in the coming weeks.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD FREEDOM CENTER
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at freedomcenter.org, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery, endslaverynow.org.