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History center adds features to 'From Slavery to Freedom'


As the nation observes Black History Month this February, visitors to the Senator John Heinz History Center can journey through 250 years of African American history as part of the museum’s award-winning exhibition, From Slavery to Freedom, presented by BNY Mellon and funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Education and Cultural (URR) Program.

Several new features have recently been added to the long-term exhibit, which chronicles the anti-slavery movement, the Underground Railroad, and the impact of 19th century activism on the modern quest for civil and human rights in Western Pa.

The exhibit has been updated with audio/visual enhancements, interactive stations, and new artifacts, including:

· An immersive area where visitors can experience the sights and sounds of the freedom seeker experience, including the types of food and plants that were consumed along their path to freedom;

· Six interactive touch-screen stations where visitors can virtually explore the 19th century safe houses that were part of the Underground Railroad in Western Pa., including several locations in downtown Pittsburgh;

· A new life-like museum figure of Civil War soldier Alexander Kelly, who lived in Allegheny City (today’s North Side) and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the colors of his company in 1864 during the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm in Virginia; and

· Newly installed iPads that allow visitors to scroll through digitized copies of manumission, indenture, and freedom papers discovered by the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds office that help to tell previously untold stories about slave ownership and freedom in Western Pennsylvania.

The From Slavery to Freedom exhibit was recently honored by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) as a 2013 Award of Merit winner, the organization’s highest honor. The exhibit was also honored with a 2013 African Diaspora World Tourism Flame Keeper in Cultural Arts Culture Exhibit Award for showcasing an aspect of the African diaspora heritage and history.

From Slavery to Freedom is co-sponsored by PPG Industries Foundation, the University of Pittsburgh, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and The Double Eagle Foundation.


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