Spirits of the Passage
The Frazier Museum’s real stuffed buffalo, “Buffy,” is easy to move, when necessary, because he has roller skates concealed under his hooves.
The human spirit can never be enslaved.
The Frazier Museum launches a new exhibition in celebration of Black History Month
that explores the circumstances of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
and the power of the human spirit.
The Frazier History Museum invites guests to experience one of the most powerful and important exhibitions it has ever displayed. “Spirits of the Passage: The Story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade” explores the power of the human spirit through a display of nearly 150 historical objects covering more than 350 years.
The 4,000 sq. ft. exhibition, on display through June 16, 2013, is in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the turning point it represented for thousands of enslaved people at a pivotal point in the American Civil War. It’s the first exhibition of its kind to examine the entire history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade from the 16th through 19th centuries, while also presenting the most up-to-date research and discoveries to the public. These include the latest marine archaeological discoveries, new research on key African societies and an exploration of the slave trade’s modern day legacies.
Produced by the Frazier Museum in partnership with the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Fla. and with sponsorship support from the University of Louisville, “Spirits of the Passage” allows guests to see authentic artifacts from the wreck of an actual slave ship, such as restraints, tools, plates and trade goods, as well as dozens of other objects from West African societies that show the uniqueness of the individual cultures they represent. These include religious objects, bronze- and beadwork, pottery and jewelry. These compelling artifacts, along with maps, paintings and illustrations, create a provocative picture of this tragic era, while also engendering a sense of pride in the legacy of strength these enslaved people left behind.
“’Spirits of the Passage’ represents a wealth of new scholarship on a topic that often gets reduced to data and charts,” said Frazier Museum Executive Director Madeleine Burnside, a slave trade historian. “What’s so rare about this exhibition is how we delve into the details of this haunting world event—with real stories about specific people and coordinating artifacts.”
Objects for the exhibition are on loan from the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, which has one of the finest collections of this sort in the world, as well as the Speed Art Museum, which contributed objects from the Congo, Dahomey and Igbo cultures. Burnside continued, “We’ve worked with a distinguished group of scholars from across the country, as well as local interest groups to ensure that we’re doing this vast topic justice on not only an academic level, but a human one as well.”
The exhibition sets out to dispel myths, offer new insights and encourage a community conversation about history’s by-standers, up-standers and activists, and the interconnectedness of people from various parts of the globe. To this end, the museum will be hosting a number of related events and programs during the run of “Spirits of the Passage,” as well as special programming for school groups.
“Spirits of the Passage” is included in regular museum admission. Adult admission (15 and older) is $10.50, children (ages 5-14) are $6 and discounts are available for military, seniors and groups of 20 or more. Museum members, teachers and children 4 and under get in free. During the month of February only, the Frazier Museum is participating in Museum Row on Main’s “$5 February” promotion, where residents of Kentucky and Indiana can receive $5 admission just by showing their ID or other proof of residency.
The Frazier History Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
The Frazier Museum is located at 829 W. Main Street on downtown Louisville’s “Museum Row.” This world-class museum provides a journey through more than 1,000 years of world and American history with ever-changing and interactive exhibits, daily performances by costumed interpreters and engaging special events and programs. The Frazier Museum has the distinction of being the only place in the world outside Great Britain to permanently house and display Royal Armouries artifacts.