Niagara Falls was the last stop for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individuals escaping slavery in the mid 1800s. Our challenge was to create a sense of connection to these freedom seekers, capturing the drama they experienced, despite having few details about particular individuals or stories.
We decided to maximize the opportunity for visitors to connect emotionally by engaging artist E.B. Lewis. Our graceful animations turned his watercolor paintings into powerful short videos packed with affect, action, and agency. Some videos feature voice over by Emmy Award-winning actor Keith David, and music by Mahalia Jackson. Some are silent, embedded into scenic settings that are activated as visitors walk by. Some are accessed via a touchscreen map; visitors select a portrait associated with a particular location and a story unfolds on the wall in front of them. Additional media include a digital exploration of a historic hotel log book, as well as a video featuring interviews with contemporary freedom seekers.
If you are not moved, you are nailed down.Bill Bradberry, President and Chair, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission