In addition to licking Abe Lincoln’s leg, we did a few other things on our recent Cincinnati trip. Since the kids were less old than they are today, we have always enjoyed visiting public aquariums. It just so happens that Ohio has a pretty cool aquarium. It’s in Kentucky, but Ohio’s aquarium is pretty awesome! I am always happy that the kids seem to enjoy wandering around aquariums. We often see repeating species but it never grows old. I guess it is a testimony to how incredible nature is. I always stand amazed at the variety of creatures that exist and it makes me sad when I hear how so much of the diversity that exists is in jeopardy due to global climate change, habitat destruction or other abuses of nature.
Anyhow, we very much enjoyed touring the Newport aquarium and spent several hours enjoying all there was to see. We also spent a bunch of time at the Contemporary Arts Center. We had a great time touring the exhibits and what made it especially cool is that we got to interact with the art pieces on two entire floors in the ON! Handcrafted Digital Playgrounds exhibit! When we walked in, I didn’t realize that the place was set up for kids but it couldn’t have been more perfect. Of course, most art is regular museums is hands-off, but the kids and I both enjoyed playing Smash Pong (Ping pong on an artsy table where extreme hitting is encouraged), flying paper airplanes and rocking-and-rolling a patchwork quilt camper at the CAC.
At the Contemporary Arts Center
I think the place that was the most powerful during the trip was the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. I am not sure why it sort of touched a nerve with all of us, but seeing the “slave pen” when you enter the building spoke to us immediately. It’s a simple display but when we walked into the wooden cabin, we all stood with our mouths open, not saying a word. Seventy or so people were warehoused in a a room not much larger than a typical school classroom. They were forced to live in terror, filth and shock until they were sold.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Most displays within the center were simple and straightforward but I think that made it easier to understand the horror that faced slaves each and every day. It seems so simple to see how wrong it is to take someone’s freedom and civil rights. We learned so much about the economics of slavery, the politics of bondage and the bravery of people who worked to protect others. I understand the economics of slavery I guess, but for the life of me, I cannot imagine how people can be so cruel to other people. I cannot imagine treating animals as badly as slaves were/are treated, let along talking, thinking people!? Both the kids and I continued onto the discussion of modern slavery and we were shocked at how extensive modern slavery is around the world and even here in the United States. You know, it is one thing to read about what people did a long time ago…it’s easy to write off as how things were when people didn’t know any better, but now…how can people still enslave other people? I don’t understand it and am pleased that the kids were equally shocked and disturbed.
Despite the tone of this writing, these places were each pretty incredible in their own way and I was pleased to visit and learn something in each place. I suppose it is fairly uncommon when you can experience powerful imagery with your kids and even more powerful when it changes how you see the world!