Ex­hibits high­light Tub­man’s jour­ney for free­dom

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

CHURCH CREEK — Ex­hibits at the newly opened Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Visi­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County fo­cus on Tub­man’s early life and work on the Eastern Shore and her es­cape from slaver y.

The ex­hibits were de­signed by Ha­ley Sharpe De­sign from the Uniter King­dom, based out of an of­fice in Toronto, Canada. Tub­man re­searcher and bi­og­ra­pher Dr. Kate Clif­ford Lar­son serves as the Visi­tor Cen­ter of­fi­cial his­tor­i­cal con­sul­tant.

A visi­tor’s ex­pe­ri­ence be­gins with a brief, ori­en­ta­tion video in a small the­ater room. Visi­tors will then con­tinue on a self-guided tour through the ex­hibit space.

Ex­hibits aim to paint a pic­ture of what life would have been like for Tub­man. Visi­tors see the ren­der­ing of a cabin sim­i­lar to that she would have lived in.

Visi­tors will be met with largescale mu­rals de­pict­ing im­por­tant places and events, such as the for­est and wa­ter where Tub­man trapped muskrats, har­vested oys­ters, and logged with her fa­ther. One mu­ral shows a scene of Tub­man on a mis­sion to free her par­ents, and their dra­matic es­cape from Po­plar Neck with horse and wagon.

A por­tion of the space is de­signed with light­ing to make the visi­tor imag­ine they are deep in the for­est in the dead of night, guided only by the North Star, as were slaves seek­ing their free­dom.

“I was free, and they should be free,” is the quo­ta­tion spo­ken by Tub­man in 1868 and dis­played in the for­est space. The area also in­cludes large sig­nage with the names of those known to be con­ducted by her on the Un­der­ground Rail­road.

Tub­man’s words loom large over each ex­hibit, in a way nar­rat­ing her own story.

The corn crib at Po­plar Neck where her broth­ers hid all day, wait­ing for night to come and their chance at free­dom, is quite a size­able ex­hibit.

There are stat­ues of Tub­man and im­ages of her through­out the ex­hibit space. Artist Bren­dan O’Neill of Tal­bot County de­signed and shaped a life-size bust of Tub­man that sits on a wye oak and cedar pedestal.

“This is a game-changer for us, the in­flux of visi­tors com­ing in and the po­ten­tial for eco­nomic im­pact,” said Dorch­ester County Tourism Di­rec­tor Amanda Fen­ster­maker. “More than that, the idea that this is hap­pen­ing after years of work­ing on this, 30-plus years of peo­ple in the com­mu­nity hold­ing this torch, to say that some­thing should be done to rec­og­nize Har­riet Tub­man.

“To see this come to fruition in such a mon­u­men­tal way sym­bol­izes that we are re­ally proud of her, and that we’re stand­ing ready to wel­come peo­ple from around the world into our com­mu­nity.”

Fen­ster­maker said she is very proud of the high qual­ity ex­hibits, par­tic­u­larly the pre­sen­ta­tion of Tub­man quo­ta­tions.

“Tub­man’s is a won­der­ful, in­spir­ing stor y of a most un­likely can­di­date,” she said.

Descen­dants of Tub­man had a spe­cial op­por­tu­nity on Fri­day, March 10, to tour the ex­hibits with Gov. Larry Ho­gan.

The north­ern half of the visi­tor cen­ter is home to the per­ma­nent ex­hibits. Ad­di­tional space is avail­able for tem­po­rary or ro­tat­ing ex­hibits.

The Visi­tor Cen­ter and park space also fea­tures a legacy gar­den, hik­ing trails, and a 2,600 square foot open pavil­ion with a stone fire­place.

Spe­cial events will be hosted from time-to-time by the park, and groups may re­quest in ad­vance to have ranger-led tours of the visi­tor cen­ter and park.

Ad­mis­sion to the park is free of charge, and it is open to the pub­lic from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ev­ery day ex­cept for Thanks­giv­ing Day, Christ­mas Day, and New Year’s Day.

In­for­ma­tion about the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Visi­tor Cen­ter can be found through the Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and the Na­tional Park Ser vice web­sites.

For more on Dorch­ester County tourism, visit www.vis­it­dorch­ester.org.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

This ex­hibit at the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Visi­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County shows the great dis­tances Tub­man’s fam­ily had to travel to be to­gether.

Henry High­land Gar­net’s quote, “Let your motto be RESISTANCE! RESISTANCE! RESISTANCE! No op­pressed peo­ple have ever se­cured their Lib­erty with­out resistance,” is fea­tured at the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Visi­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County.

This ex­hibit at the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Visi­tor Cen­ter de­picts the corn crib Tub­man and her fam­ily hid in near Po­plar Neck in Caro­line County on Christ­mas Day 1854.

PHOTOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Visi­tor Cen­ter fea­tures many ex­hibits.

Guests look at an ex­hibit at the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Visi­tor Cen­ter Satur­day, March 11.

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