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Alan Machin: Tourism As Education
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Berlin: Editing a Townscape
... and reading a city that has had many rebuilders
Making Sense of The Travel Learning Experience- 1
1 Information Streams
Making Sense of the Travel Learning Experience - 2
Some basic theories
Back to Basics: Presentation given at the Cuba EduTourism Conference
The CETA Conference in Havana, Cuba, 8/9 November 2010
About the author
Comments - CV - photos
At the heart of the tourist experience
Learning through Landscapes
Exploring Oxfordshire (and a bit of Gloucestershire!)
The Environment As Data: Building New Theories For Tourism
How tourists relate to places
Sail Gives Way to Steam
A return visit discovers just how much has been achieved in this iconic restoration
Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth Reenactment
Visits to Leicester and the battlefield event, 2013
Along The Way
Recollections and Reflections of 60+ Years' Learning about the World and its Ways
On the Edge of the New World
Shaping New England
Exploring Holderness in East Yorkshire; October 2012
Past Historic
Graf Zepplin, Spain 1968, OS History, Much Wenlock Olympics, Chatham Dockyard, Hawes Tourism, Colonial Williamsburg,
A Summer of Travelling / Matthew Starr
Three months' backpacking in Africa, Asia and Australia
East Anglia
The Broads, Pensthorpe natural history, Radar Museum, Caister Lifeboat Service and more!
A Richer Earth
Discoveries in the landscape and attractions of Shropshire
Blog Index Page
Blog pages from 2009 listed
From Strip Map to Sat Nav
'Finding the way' aids to exploration
Showcasing the World
How the Tourist Microcosm took centre stage
Doing A Dissertation
Notes to help students preparing their proposals
The Japanese Tsunami Destruction at First Hand
Sarah and Tom Wadsworth saw for themselves
Showcases: Examples
The range and variety of tourism's focal points examined
Jigsaw: Frameworks of Knowledge
The tourist jigsaw puzzle of - knowledge
Books and other works useful in studying tourism as education
Tourism's Educational Origins: Part 2
The development of tourism as education, 1845 -
Tourism's Educational Origins: Part 1
Tourism's educational origins and management
Impressions of Tourism in Cuba
Thoughts on having seen some of the country myself
Captain James Cook: North Yorkshire Days
Tracing the early life of Britain's greatest maritime explorer
Hunting the Hound of the Baskervilles
Tracking down places that inspired the famous detective story and moulded Dartmoor's image
Exploring the Idea of Dark Tourism
What is it? Is it a useful idea?
Talking to Tourists
Visitor interpretation - guide books, visitor centres and other media
Shades of Light and Dark in the Garden of England
An exploration in East Sussex and Kent, June/July 2010
Hunting the Gladiator and the Gecko
A thirteen-year search for a wartime adventure
Steam Up For A Famous Film's Birthday Party
The Railway Children weekend on the Worth Valley line raises questions about heritage presentations
Anne-Marie Rhodes: Making a Difference in South East Asia
Leeds Met graduate of '07 describes her activities
Discoveries in Northumberland, April 2010
Alnwick Gardens; Winter's Gibbet; Holy Island, Cragside, Wallington Hall
Discoveries in the Midlands, March 2010
Bletchley Park National Codes and Cipher Centre; and the Rollright Stones
Alan Machin's Blog - April 2010
The development of tourism as education continued
Jigsaw Puzzle!
The Adventure of the Timely Tourist
Leaders Into The Field
People who inspired everyone to explore
Alan Machin's blogs - February and March 2010
Postings on the history tourism as education - redirection
Alan Machin's Blog - January 2010
Tourist photography and souvenirs
Earlier front-page blog postings - January 2010 onwards
Archived after being on the Home Page
News from higher education and - beyond
The Development of Educational Tourism
Key dates in the development of educational tourism
Alan Machin's Blog - December 2009
Christmas Quiz and other postings
Analysing Heritage Tourism
Ideas and perspectives on a hugely important sector
Alan Machin's Blog - November 2009
Visitors' Views of Stonehenge, West Sussex - and other Postings
Are Universities Losing Their Way?
Reflections having retired
Teaching Tourism At Leeds Met
Remembering the Best
Alan Machin's Blog - October 2009
Thoughts about university life and discovery by travel
Alan Machin's Blog - September 2009
Further postings about a trip last month to the USA, and about higher education
Alan Machin's Blog - August 2009
Postings about a trip this month to the USA
Alan Machin's Blog - July 2009
The Story So Far reaches the summer
Alan Machin's Blog - June 2009
The Story So Far looks back on seventeen years at Leeds Met
Alan Machin's Blog - May 2009
Another month of The Story So Far
Alan Machin's blog - April 2009
Yet more of the Story So Far
Alan Machin's blog - March 2009
More of The Story So Far
Alan Machin's Blog - February 2009
The Story So Far - pioneers, people and places
Alan Machin's Blog: January 2009
The Story So Far .... first postings of '09
Alan Machin's Blog: December 2008
The Story So Far .... latest postings
Alan Machin's Blog - November '08
The Story So Far.... continued
Alan Machin's Blog: October 2008
The Story So Far....
No Place Like Rome
The eternal city with the eternal tourists
Charleston, South Carolina
A photo essay about a fine historic city
Idealog - December 2007
Ideas, notes and comments
Idealog - November 2007
Ideas, notes and comments
The Educational Origins of Tourism
Discussion paper
Idealog - October 2007
Coton Military Cemetery; Education and Tourism; Chatham Maritime; Dickens World; Quiz Answers; Tourist Guides; Mediation In Tourism
Idealog - September 2007
Plane Paradox;Tour Guiding; Where in the World?; Do Tourism Students Know Where They Are?; Leeds Met's Wow!; Sea Harrier; Scarborough and Tourism As Education; Doing A Dissertation; Types of Tourist; A Media Lens; Cost of Travelling Alone; Risk of Bias?
Idealog - August 2007
A People Industry; Heritage Interpretation; Lud's Church; Tourists Go Home!; Stone Gappe YHA; Insight Guides; Eyewitness Guides; Bramhope Tunnel; Elizabethan Progress; Information Quality Matrix
Idealog - July 2007
Hidden Heroes, Health Tourism, Holme Fen Posts; Harrogate (again); Whitby Abbey; Dramatic Interpretation; Harrogate Interpretation, Attractions and Royal Hall
Idealog - June 2007
Christian Pilgrimage; Cincinnati Museums Centre; The Coming of the Guide Book; Talking to Tourists - Media, Stages of the Visit, The Service Journey; Tourism's Missing Link; The Final Call; SATuration level; Halifax's Edwardian Window on the World
Idealog - May 2007
Martin and Osa Johnson, Wensleydale Creamery, Malham Tarn, Thomas Cook, Northern Ireland's Tourism Rebuild, Jamestown Festival Park, Cite des Sciences
Idealog - April 2007
The Promenade Plantee, The Jardin des Plantes, Environmental Data, Victorian Beauty Spot Rediscovered, Jamestown, The Anglers' Country Park, Children's Museums, Fairburn Ings
Idealog - March 2007
A Sense of the Past- The 'Amsterdam', The Outdoor Classroom, Film-Induced Tourism, Making Tracks for the Coast and Country, Pictures, Context and Meaning, Classics-on-Sea, Hi Hi Everyone!, Dark Side of the Dream, Holodyne - The Action Cycle
Idealog - February 2007
Don't Go There!, Space Tourism, The Crystal Cathedral, New Books on Tourism, Dark Tourism - Undercliffe Cemetery, Showcase - The Louvre, A Class Act, First Impressions Count, Postal Pleasures, Canaletto in Venice, Serpent Mound, Capsule Culture etc
Idealog - January 2007
Capsule Culture,Seaside Style, Poble Espanyol, Mallorca, Edgar Dale, Children's Holiday Homes, Representations of Reality, Outdoor Education in Germany, Baedeker Guides, Geography Textbooks, Environmental Data Theory etc
Idealog - December 2006
Writers on Landscape, Story Books, The Deep, Flour Power and the Archers,Showcases: Grand Tour, Halifax Piece Hall, Books of Concern about Tourism, Tourist Traces, Tourist Typologies, The Growth of Educational Tourism, The Field Studies Council, etc
Idealog - November 2006
A blog of ideas, comments and notes
Travel To Understand: Belfast
Telling the stories of troubled times
World Quiz 2010
Geography with a tourism angle
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
An outstanding educational facility in California
Chicago: Tourism Re-Imaging
A closer view of an iconic city
Colonial Williamsburg
A Virginia history showcase
A Social Club Outing By Train, 1935
How to do Scotland in 30 hours flat
Going Dutch
Presenting the past in the Netherlands
Keukenhof: Business is Blooming
Using tourism to promote an industry
A View of Italy for the City
Trentham Gardens Revived
A Case Study in Heritage Management
A curious tale of misleading publicity
Old Rice Farm
The story of the house in the 'holler'
Perfection in Paradise: The Eden Project
New page being added: The Eden Project's design for success
Escaping From Slavery: Facing Our Past
The US National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Prague Tourist Shows
Outstanding showcase attractions in the city
Retracing the Steps: Tourism as Education
ATLAS Conference paper given in Finland, 2000
Tourism and Historic Towns: The Cultural Key
A background paper for a Council of Europe Conference
The Social Helix
Visitor Interpretation as a Tool for Social Development, 1989
Malta Residential, 14-21 Feb 2006 - Page 1
Reports and Pictures
Malta Residential, 14-21 Feb 2006 - Page 2
Photos and reports of Friday 17 Feb onwards
Malta Residential, 14-21 February 2006 - Page 3
Reports and pictures from Sunday, 19 February onwards
Tourism Alumni Reunion, 8 March 2003
Leeds tourism students reunion 2003
World Geography Quiz 1
A test of your knowledge
The Adventure of the Timely Tourist
The answers
Tall Ships Race 2010 Converged on Hartlepool
A major event-based boost for tourism in the town
Plymouth: From the Tamar to the Sea
Starting point for explorations round the globe
Plimoth Plantation
A reconstruction of the Mayflower settlers' village of the 1620s on the north east coast of North America
World Geography Quiz 2010 - Answers
Geography with a tourism angle
World Geography Quiz - Answers
Christmas Quiz 2009 - Answers
A day in the city including the Botanic Garden
Tourist Showcases
Examples from around the world

Escaping From Slavery: Facing Our Past

NURFC titler

Looking out over the Ohio River that once marked the boundary between the
American slave states and the free states, this dignified centre aims to
bring together peoples who were once divided by ideas about race.

NURFC composite

Cincinnati lies on the north side of the Ohio River at a point close to the corners of three States – Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Up to the middle of the nineteenth century the Ohio River was the dividing line between the slave-owning south and the non-slave north. It was therefore the last physical barrier for slaves who tried to escape north. Up until the Congressional Act which freed slaves in the United States, in 1865, some 100,000 of them were helped to escape to the north by a clandestine organisation known as the Underground Railroad.

With so many potential stories to tell it could be thought an obvious subject for a museum or exhibition centre in a city which has a high proportion of people of African descent. But black history in the USA as in Britain is related to slavery, exploitation and inhumanity. The UK is only just struggling towards a history which acknowledges that its industrial leadership was partly built on the ill treatment and killing of large numbers of human beings. The USA has edged slowly towards telling its own stories of inhumanity and the aftermath. The pioneering history project at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, which first attracted visitors in 1932, was only able to tell its own story of slavery effectively in the 1980s (Greenspan, 2002).

Cincinnati Museums Center

A display from the Cincinnati Museums
Center showing an African American
returning home safely after World
War II.

Local history in Cincinnati is now a popular topic thanks to the conversion of the spectacular Union Station building into a collection of museums, plus an Omnimax film theatre. In 1990 the Cincinnati History Museum was opened, where it has joined others devoted to science, and natural history. The half-dome shape of the former station building, with underground exhibition areas and an impressive approach avenue, makes for a unique and prestigious attraction. The city has two sports stadiums next to the Ohio River, where reconstructions of stern-wheeler boats ply up and down carrying tourists under the John A Roebling suspension bridge of 1866, which is an icon for Cincinnati. The Freedom Center occupies an area placed between the stadiums and at the downtown end of the bridge.

On the south side of the river is Covington, a small town with prestigious service companies, and next to it (and the bridge) Newport, which has scored a great tourist success with Newport on the Levee with a shopping mall, entertainments and an aquarium. Walk in downtown Cincy on a Sunday and there is little happening; walk in Newport and there is activity and fun. In addition, Cincinnati has had its racial tensions and social problems, as shown by the riots of April 2001 which shook the city to its core.

Click here to see the Cincinnati Enquirer reports

The National Underground Railway Freedom Center (the American spelling will be used when referring to the official title) had been proposed long before the riots, in 1994. Work began on the site in June 2002 and the Center was opened in August 2004. It offers a prime opportunity for what the local Cincinnati Enquirer pointed out in 2001 was a desperate local need – to bring city dwellers and groups in general closer together across the divides of skin colour and economic position.

The building consists of three linked ‘pavilions’, the outcome of a $110m fund-raising campaign. The feeling around the outside and within is of space and quality. Varied surface textures and colours have been used in a well integrated overall design. This is a special place in which to tell a special story. A broad terrace at first-floor level (to Americans, it’s the second floor) gives space to walk around or sit admiring the view across the Ohio River towards Covington, in line with the Roebling Bridge. Over there are murals freshly painted on a riverside wall with some of the region’s history represented, including that of the black slaves. One picture shows African Americans struggling through a snowstorm: were these people escaping the south – which was that side of the river? On the Freedom Center terrace burns an eternal flame of freedom – on the north side of the river which led to emancipation.

NURFC - Slave Pen

The Slave Pen Exhibit
The largest artifact of the Freedom Center
is an authentic Slave Pen. Visitors listen
to Carl B. Westmoreland, Curator of the
Slave Pen & Senior Adviser for Historical
Preservation, tell the story of this
significant artifact / Mark Bealer Photography

[All interior photographs reproduced
courtesy of the National Underground
Railway Freedom Center, whose
copyright they are: original captions

The Center is not a museum, based around a collection of objects. It is a meeting place in which stories are told by interpretation panels and video shows. A series of rooms is devoted to different ‘chapters’. One large area contains a reconstruction of a slave hut – shown in the photograph. Video shows using actors in dramatic scenes tell of slave life, escape and the hazardous crossing of the Ohio into the north. Oprah Whinfrey, an important supporter of the project, introduces parts of the dramas in a professional and sensitive style. It all captures the imagination, but more importantly it captures the heart and the soul.

NURFC - Boeing Flight to Freedom Theatre

Boeing Flight to Freedom Theater:
"Brothers of the Borderland" Film
A unique "environmental theater"
experience where visitors follow
the courageous actions of
Underground Railroad conductors
John Parker and Rev. John Rankin
of Ripley, OH / Farshid Assassi
– Assassi Productions

NURFC - Escape display

ESCAPE! Freedom Seekers and the
Underground Railroad
This exhibit is the family-
friendly, interactive introduction
to Underground Railroad stories
of courage, cooperation, and
perseverance / Mark Bealer

NURFC - Slavery to Freedom display

From Slavery to Freedom
In the largest and most
traditional exhibit space,
visitors explore the Middle
Passage, the institution of
slavery, the rise of
abolitionism and Underground
Railroad, and the Civil War
/ Farshid Assassi – Assassi

Towards the end of the sequence there is a different room, one which broadens out the theme of inhumanity and its effect upon communities. Here, wars and conflicts and terror strikes around the world are featured. At the time of my visit in early August 2005 there was already mention via a computer display screen of the London bombings of the previous 7 July. Near to this section is another in which children have left messages with their thoughts written up about troubled humanity and future hopes. Inside the entrance, back on the ground floor, is a shop which sells souvenirs of the visit, many of which have been made by people in underdeveloped regions of the world – South America, Africa, Asia, craft items and small works of art. There are books on black American history, people and events. But there does not appear to be a book about the Center itself, one which records the stories told in the video scenes in order to be read at leisure, at home. There is an informative web site, however, and the they can be found there. Walking around I could find no reference to the building’s architects: Perhaps it was there somewhere. The Center’s web site records them as Blackburn Architects of Indianapolis with BOORA architects supporting.

NURFC -Concluding Experience

Reflect, Respond, Resolve: The
Concluding Experience
Visitors to the Freedom Center
have a safe place to consider,
interact, and join facilitated
dialogue to conclude their visit.
There are also interactive videos
where visitors are challenged to
see where they stand on social
issues, decide what they would
do to resolve conflict in certain
situations, and sign up to be
part of organizations that help
continue the struggle against
"UnFreedom." / Farshid Assassi
– Assassi Productions

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center exists to unite people of different ethnicity. It has a positive, affirming effect reminding its visitors that they are of one human family which has experienced many different histories. This is an issue-based attraction in the way that recent decades have seen the establishment of centres examining environmental issues. Too few exist at the present time. It is also one which tells an uncomfortable story: too few of those have been opened and more are needed. Northern Ireland’s troubled past, continental Europe’s vicious wars, have some representation. Every place would benefit from shining light onto the dark side.

Click here to visit the NURFC web site

Book mention:

Greenspan, A (2002) Creating Colonial Williamsburg, Washington DC, Smithsonian Institution

[also see the review of this book on a separate page]

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