Exploring the lines of struggle that divided a young nation.
Liberty on the Border explored the physical, cultural, and ideological borders shaped by the American Civil War. The nationally touring exhibition's run, which lasted nearly 15 years, enveloped the 150-year sesquicentennial observance of the Civil War. The exhibition was created and toured by Cincinnati Museum Center.
U.S. state and regional borders shifted during the years leading up to the War, through the War years, and during various points from the end of the War to the present. Individuals and local, state, and federal governments defined “liberty” differently—and often contentiously—especially when establishing and enforcing borders.
Liberty on the Border covered three time periods:
- Liberty Denied: The events prior to the Civil War;
- Liberty's Trial: The Civil War years; and
- Liberty's Legacy: How the Civil War has been remembered.
Through photographs and documents, touchable replicas and artifacts, backdrops and dioramas, hands-on interactives, audio visual effects, diaries, and music, the exhibition examined why the War came about, and what impact the War has had on the cultural fiber of the United States.
National Standards for US History (National Center for History in Schools)
- Era 5—“Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)”
- Standard 1—The causes of the Civil War
- Standard 2—The course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people
- Standard 3—How various reconstruction plans succeeded or failed
Significant humanities themes (Social Studies Strands)
- American Heritage and historical perspective (History)
- Culture and Society (Sociology/Anthropology)
- World interactions (Geography)
- Decision making and resources (Economics)
- Citizenship rights and responsibilities (Government and Civics)
- Democratic processes (Government)
Content and take-home concepts
- Guests discover how “borders” functioned between states during the war and how they served to both connect and divide people. They will see different definitions and interpretations of “liberty”—before, during, and after the Civil War. Lessons learned about the past are applied to the present.
- Guests take away from this exhibit a greater knowledge of how current issues—racial inequality and violence, regional nativism, antigovernment sentiments, the construction and definition of what is “American”—are linked to the Civil War.
4/5/03–9/1/03 Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OH (9,700 sq. ft.)
9/27/03–9/6/04 Owensboro Area Museum, Owensboro, KY
9/25/04–1/9/05 Sloan Museum, Flint, MI
1/29/05–5/30/05 Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Kalamazoo, MI
6/11/05–9/11/05 African American Museum & Library, Oakland, CA
9/24/05–1/8/06 Fresno Metropolitan Museum, Fresno, CA
3/4/06–9/17/06 Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, WA
1/27/07–5/6/07 Orange County Regional History Center, Orlando, FL
5/26/07–1/6/08 Mill Springs Battlefield Museum & Visitor Center, Nancy, KY
1/26/08–9/8/08 Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, Kennesaw, GA
9/27/08–1/18/09 Frazier International History Museum, Louisville, KY
1/31/09–5/17/09 Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, Hobbs, NM
10/2/10–5/8/11 Center for History, South Bend, IN
9/10/11–1/8/12 National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, OH
1/28/12-5/6/12 Charlotte Museum of History, Charlotte, NC
5/26/12-9/3/12 Hastings Museum, Hastings, NE
9/22/12-1/6/13 Gateway Museum Center, Maysville, KY
1/26/13-8/25/13 Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia, Beckley, WV
9/21/13-1/5/14 Durham Museum, Omaha, NE
5/10/14-8/9/14 Owensboro Museum, Owensboro, KY
10/4/14-1/24/15 Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding, CA
2/23/15-5/8/15 Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT
Take a behind the scenes tour of Liberty on the Border on the road with Museum Center's emeritus Traveling Exhibits Coordinator, Kimberly Graham.
Liberty On the Border: A Civil War Exhibit is a production of Cincinnati Museum Center. ©CMC, 2001