Seeing Equal Rights in New York State
MTWTF worked in collaboration with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the New York State Museum; the City of Auburn; nARCHITECTS; and a broad team of historians to develop the content strategy for the Center’s permanent exhibition. As it was important for the Center to respect the depth and complexity of the stories told at each attraction, the exhibition sorts content by media type rather than by distinct struggles. Exhibits remain succinct to pique visitors’ interest and get them excited about venturing out to attractions learn more. Portraits, speeches, songs, and posters are supplemented by “did you know?” facts and suggested attractions where visitors can learn more.
Equal rights touchstones
The Center celebrates the contributions of well-known New Yorkers by highlighting the ideas that motivated their views on Equal Rights. Each portrait, speech, and song links to a place where that legacy is explored and honored. A bright color-coding system highlights content related to the abolition of slavery and the birth of the women’s rights movement in green and purple respectively. Although the Center speaks to a broader range of equal rights struggles (depicted in blue), these two struggles are particularly vivid at equal rights attractions throughout the state. Images are printed at a large scale — slightly larger than human scale — to create an immersive experience for visitors. Animated exhibits incorporate visually active transitions between historic images to keep visitors engaged.
Equal rights movements
To connect the efforts of historic figures to contemporary struggles for equal rights, a video timeline displays images of New Yorkers organizing — from early meetings clamoring for women’s suffrage to recent Women’s Marches in Seneca Falls. Posters carried at contemporary marches in New York State are woven into the Center’s two poster walls, putting the struggles of contemporary New Yorkers in conversation with those of the past. Local performing artists were invited to create new recordings of songs and speeches that have been instrumental to these struggles for equal rights. Notably, students at the nearby Genesee Elementary school recorded songs that they had written about Harriet Tubman’s legacy. These exhibits offer a way for the local community to continue to act as stewards for the legacy of equal rights in New York State and beyond.