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Lynching exhibit is biggest draw ever at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
By Mark Curnutte • mcurnutte@enquirer.com • May 28, 2010

walked through "Without Sanctuary," "It's a mark of how Cincinnati's sensibilities are changing that a most controversial exhibit ended up drawing good crowds and favorable comments at just the time when the ostracism of certain populations (Hispanic immigrants) appears to be escalating," Bernish said. The exhibit included photography of the burning, castration and dismemberment of bodies, many on postcards used by people to write greetings to friends or relatives. The Freedom Center did not offer guided tours. About 70 percent of the 5,000 documented lynching events of African-Americans, Jews and immigrants between 1882 and 1968 took place in former Confederate states. Yet the hangings were widespread: 205 took place in Kentucky, 47 in Indiana, and 26 in Ohio. Four hundred more people walked up Friday, Bernish said, many citing their desire to see the exhibit before it closes Monday. "Without Sanctuary" will be open three more days. The Freedom Center will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Sunday and Monday, Memorial Day. Cost is $12 for adults and $10 for people 60 and older.

Freedom Center executives weren't quite sure how Greater Cincinnati would respond to the lynching exhibit "Without Sanctuary" when it opened in mid-January. In four months, as it winds up its run, the display of horrific photographs and artifacts has drawn 15,000 people and departs as best attended temporary exhibit in the five-plus years since the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened. "We are pleased with the attendance because, given the poor weather in February, the state of the economy and the content of the exhibit, we weren't certain what we would drawn," said Paul Bernish, Freedom Center chief communication officer. Center officials hoped for 10,000. "Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America," bettered the now No. 2 draw, "Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War," on display in late 2008 and early 2009. Total center attendance since "Without Sanctuary" opened Jan. 19 was 50,000, although many visitors were part of school tours for students under age 17 who didn't visit the exhibit. On May 22, a single-day high of 389 people

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6/1/2010