The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center received half-a-million dollars in grant funding to help preserve its growing collection of artifacts and exhibits highlighting important and often under-told aspects of United States history.
The $500,000 came from the Historic Preservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service. This particular pot of grant money supports the mission of the National Historic Preservation Act. The funds go to state, Tribe, local government, institute of higher education and nonprofit projects focused on the preservation of resources relevant to U.S. history.
Freedom Center leadership views the grant dollars as significant as part of its first major exhibition refresh since opening in August 2004. The museum earmarked these funds for helping to cover the cost of doubling its collections storage area.
“As we expand the stories and voices that we can bring from the silence of history to the forefront of our American experience, this generous grant from the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior will ensure those voices are robust and endure,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president and COO of the Freedom Center.
Chief among the Freedom Center’s planned uses of these funds is the creation of a research-level archival system. Having such a system on-site will make the museum an “international destination for collecting, preserving and researching African American ancestry in Ohio and beyond,” Keown said.
The project will also include a dedicated space for archival artifacts and documents, and a reading room for visiting researchers.
The Freedom Center is working to identify a partner to facilitate the architectural expansion. Keown anticipates completing the project by 2026.
“This significant investment by the National Park Service is an investment in these stories, in this history and in the work we are doing to preserve it,” Keown added.