Underground Railroad Center Hits 5 Years

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Cincinnati (AP) -- A museum focused on the 19th century underground railroad and on freedom around the world celebrates its fifth anniversary with scaled-down budget and attendance expectations.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened on Cincinnati's Riverfront with a star-studded event including then-first lady Laura Bush and Oprah Winfrey.

There were lofty attendance projections of up to 1 million a year, but the museum has had less than 900,000 visitors total since opening.

Its budget and staff have been cut by about half.

Center officials say attendance has been hurt by the recession, Riverfront development delays and the need to focus its mission.

The museum gets good reviews from educators, students and others and is working to broaden its appeal.

(Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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