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Invisible Slavery Today at the Freedom Center
Too often museums are stale, full of interesting but minimally relevant information and artifacts. The things I learn in museums don’t change my immediate actions when I leave the museum. And that’s fine; historical perspective and artistic understanding are a vital influence on our thinking.
At the same time, it’s refreshing to visit a museum exhibit that has a feeling of immediacy, that calls me to action—now. Invisible: Slavery Today is exactly that kind of exhibit. It’s the new exploration of modern day slavery at The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Freedom Center is best known for it’s moving exhibits on historical slavery in America; but now the Center is expanding its vision to encompass the massive and growing need to address slavery around the world today.
I got to preview the exhibit in October. The first half of the exhibit is designed to look like a warehouse to represent how slaves are viewed as commodities. It explores five types of modern day slavery: bonded labor, sex trafficking, child labor, domestic servitude, and forced labor. Each type is represented by an image depicting the dehumanization that comes with slavery.
Next the exhibit looks at the factors that make people vulnerable to slavery and the means by which traffickers lure and oppress their victims.
The next section explores the scope of each type of slavery. This section integrates information and statistics about slavery with the voices of the victims, providing a powerful, balanced, motivating message.
The final section focused on how people could have an impact on such a large problem. It also incorporated hopeful stories of survivors. It was so refreshing to move from the darkness and bleakness of the previous sections to the bright, hopeful summary of the exhibit.
What I loved most about the exhibit was the ways they artfully told the story. The exhibit is rich with texture, imagery, information, and the voices of victims. It is interactive and action-focused, logical and emotional, heartbreaking and motivating.
If you live in Cincinnati or are passing through (it’s a great city to visit!), Invisible Slavery Today is a must-see for anyone who wants to learn about the problem of trafficking and how to fix it.
Melissa loves merging her passions for writing and for helping provide restoration for exploited people. She graduated from Miami University with a degree in Adolescent English Education and is a former middle school language arts teacher. She now works full time as an editor. Melissa has visited Freeset in Kolkata, India.
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