Launched to mark the 150th anniversary of the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Modern Slavery: Human Trafficking in the United States challenges visitors to confront the fact that slavery exists in our time, and now holds more people than were held at the height of the transatlantic slave trade.
In both its subject matter and design, this temporary exhibit—designed by Howard+Revis Design—is an intentional and marked departure from the core history exhibits at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Modern Slavery takes a stark look at modern slavery through a centerpiece AV projection carrying the first-person testimonies of trafficking survivors, and three large-format exhibition books that hold supporting data, photos, and graphics. The AV footage is projected on a ceiling-suspended semi-translucent banner, visible from all points in the room. As it plays, visitors flip through the exhibition books, which each begin with a question: “Who is vulnerable?”, “What is modern slavery?”, and “How do we end human trafficking?” Answering with a concise narrative, the books use a clean, bold layout that seeks to keep shocking statistics and little-known facts on human trafficking at the fore.
Supporting graphics reinforce the widespread nature of modern trafficking and provide an analytical complement to the first-person voice of the AV. Upon exiting, visitors are encouraged to become abolitionists by taking a postcard from a series of tear-away postcard books that, together, form the challenge, “Can you walk away?” and remind visitors they hold the power to eradicate modern slavery. Individually, each postcard carries a bold statement on the front, and on the back, a means of taking action against this rapidly growing criminal industry.
“A stark and somber presentation fitting the subject matter. The hands-on, tactile aspect of this exhibit creates a visceral connection.”
“An extremely challenging brief and topic, delivered in an intense and dramatic environment. Although delivered on a limited budget, and within a relatively confined space, the design team turned these apparent constraints to their benefit. The combined use of AV, imagery, and large-format exhibition books force the visitor to engage on an intensely personal level, and ultimately reflect upon the stark nature of the subject matter. A compelling and engaging piece.”
“While modest in size and scale, this exhibit transports the visitor to the seriousness of the topic. I was especially drawn to the idea of having the visitor engage directly with the topic by flipping the pages of the book, or tearing off a post card as opposed to passively receiving the information.”
Tracy Revis (principal in charge), Santosh Dhamat (creative director), Elizabeth Eubank (project manager, content developer, writer), Solvita Marriott (graphic designer)
Cortina Productions (multimedia production), Blair Dubilier & Associates (multimedia equipment and installation)
Jeffrey Larry, President Lincoln’s Cottage (exhibit fabrication), CSI Printing & Graphics (graphic production), Polaris Project (content, still photography, video footage)