Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

September 10, 2019 Jenn Petersen

Recreating the inspirational story of a 19th century struggle for today’s generation.

Niagara Falls, New York

CHALLENGE

There’s a famous old spiritual ‘One more river to cross’ and it’s celebrated in a permanent exhibition of the same name at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. First an explanation. There’s no railroad under the falls. The ‘Underground Railroad’ was a network of people, routes and methods of transport used by slaves to reach a better life in Canada by crossing ‘one more river’.

The Heritage Center aims to tell the story from the perspective of the leading figures and the people involved in the Underground Railroad. Not easy, when most of the events took place in the 1800s. The organizers also aim to recreate the experiences of these people so that visitors get a real sense of the challenges the freedom seekers, the abolitionists and their helpers faced and overcame. And there’s another great spiritual, ‘All my trials Lord soon be over.’ The aim was not just education, but inspiration.

The museum stands as a monument to freedom and the brave people who defied federal law to uphold what they viewed as a higher law of morality and humanity.

SOLUTION

Working with Richard Lewis Media Group (RLMG) Electrosonic helped utilized technology to bring the realities of this extraordinary 19th century movement to life for today’s visitors. Linear video, Interactive and interpretive media help visitors understand and experience the dramatic final stages of the long, hard journey for themselves. Multimedia recreations of the crossing points highlight the risks the freedom seekers faced. Powerful audio gives a voice to historic figures letting them tell their inspirational stories in their own words.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The visitor experience in the Heritage Center has made an important contribution to education and awareness of a movement that was a key part of the long struggle for civil rights. Technology has helped realize the organizer’s vision of connecting 19th century injustices with present day problems. As an added bonus, the Center has added a new dimension to visitor attractions to Niagara Falls.

"This new museum is a tour de force highlighting the indomitable human spirit’s longing for freedom. This multimedia venue shows the travails, determination, and success of North American slaves’ flight to freedom through Niagara Falls, across the Niagara River, and to freedom in Canada. Interactive displays are appropriate for the whole family, all cultures and the message is one of change and empowerment."Visitor, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

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