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PGAV Destinations Breathing New Life into the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center


World-class design firm to improve cultural heritage site

PGAV Destinations has been selected to enhance the learning spaces within the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH.

Related: PGAV Destinations Profile/ More than $1 Billion in Project Work Tops PGAV Destinations 2012 Annual Review   

“Visitors from around the world have been inspired by the stories of freedom’s heroes that we share at the Freedom Center, ” said Kim Robinson, Freedom Center executive director. “We’re excited to tell an even richer story of freedom to our guests through the proposed renovations by PGAV Destinations.”

PGAV Destinations Breathing New Life into the National Underground Railroad Freedom CenterThe re-imagining of the Freedom Center space will bring a wide range of interactive exhibits and programs to expand the current audience of the museum while leveraging powerful story-telling to connect guests with past and current struggles for freedom around the world.

New interactives will build on the prevailing themes of courage, cooperation, and perseverance, taking guests on a personal journey to freedom. On the international stage, the plan calls for augmenting the Center’s offerings as a hub for international freedom issues, attracting audiences, supporters, speakers, traveling exhibits, educational programs, corporate training, and distance learning programs from around the world.

New products will bring multiple opportunities for live and innovative story-telling as well as opportunities to vividly experience landmark moments throughout the history of freedom preservation. These products will cover the fight for freedom, the defense of freedom, and the celebration of freedom. 

“The Freedom Center is about the power of the human spirit to overcome unimaginable adversity, ” says Tom Owen, vice president at PGAV Destinations. “We’ve planned new experiences that will take visitors on an emotional journey through darkness and into light, ultimately celebrating freedom and empowering people to help others.”

PGAV Destinations Breathing New Life into the National Underground Railroad Freedom CenterNumerous and extensive concepts are currently being developed and tested with existing and future audiences found within Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, and also within additional feeder markets through focus groups and surveys.

Rich media offerings populate a number of the new products, including projecting stories and headlines onto the envelope of the building; interactive stories of freedom mixing live performance and A/V; and a buzzing news room with interactive headlines and stories about current struggles and victories for freedom around the world.

Story-telling is a core theme of the conceptual redesign of the Freedom Center. New exhibits may take the shape of hearing stories of the Underground Railroad through the eyes of different participants; professional storytellers recounting historic, moving moments; live story-telling from community members about their struggles and successes; and revolutionary ways to converse with descendants of important figures from the Underground Railroad.

Many interactives and unique products are also under consideration. Visitors may experience the opportunity to pose with key historical freedom figures, enjoy new dining and retail offerings, participate in community-generated works of art, record their own music, and appreciate a wide and rotating assortment of live music.


About PGAV Destinations                                                                                                                     
PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. Now in its fifth decade, the practice has evolved to become the ideal destination-consulting partner, skilled at developing growth-oriented master plans and translating those plans into successful projects. No other firm offers such an integrated approach to destination planning. 

PGAV’s key clients include industry leaders such as Delaware North Companies, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Biltmore Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Ameristar Casinos, Universal Studios, The Gettysburg Foundation, The National Aviary, and many others. Recent assignments include planning and design at many of the world’s “must see” destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Biltmore Estate, Kennedy Space Center, Hearst Castle, the Georgia Aquarium, the Hoover Dam, and SeaWorld Adventure Parks. 

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