Our History

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Our History

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a museum of conscience, an education center, a convener of dialogue, and a bea­con of light for inclusive freedom around the globe.

Our physical location in downtown Cincinnati is just a few steps from the banks of the Ohio River, the great natural barrier that separated the slave states of the South from the free states of the North. Since opening in 2004, we have filled a substantial void in our nation’s cultural heritage. Rooted in the stories of the Underground Railroad, we illuminate the true meaning of inclusive freedom by presenting permanent and special exhibits that inspire, public programming that provoke dialogue and action, and educational resources that equip modern abolitionists.

1994

The concept of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center first proposed.

2002

14,000 attend groundbreaking.

2004

20,000 attend opening celebration.

2005

280,000 attend in first year from all 50 states and 35 countries.

2008

Two National Endowment for Humanities grants awarded.

2012

Merger with Cincinnati Museum Center.

2012-13

Fiscal year closes with balanced budget.

2019

Celebrated 15-year anniversary.

2020

Woodrow Keown, Jr. named President and Chief Operating Officer

Mission

To pursue inclusive freedom by promoting social justice for all, building on the principles of the Underground Railroad.

Vision

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is the preeminent cultural learning center for inclusive freedom - locally, nationally and globally.