CAPE MAY, N.J. – State lawmakers got a special behind the scenes tour last week of the highly anticipated Harriet Tubman museum, which will open later this month.
Cape May Assemblymen Antwan McClellan and Erik Simonsen were joined by Sen. Ron Rice and other local officials last Wednesday for a visit of the museum.
“I am excited and proud that Harriet Tubman is being honored and that there is a dedicated place here in New Jersey where people can go to learn more about this extraordinary woman who truly is an American hero”, said McClellan. “The more we learn about the Underground Railroad and the dangers faced, the more we understand the heroic, brave actions of the men and women who worked to abolish slavery.”
The museum has already attracted national attention, including a mention in Smithsonian Magazine among the most anticipated new museums planned around the world.
It showcases Tubman’s role as a champion of civil rights while highlighting her time working in Cape May to earn income in support of her underground railroad efforts.
Greeting visitors is an enormous bronze statue on loan to the museum, showing a towering Tubman escorting a young boy from slavery to freedom. An escaped slave, Tubman escorted about 70 people out of slavery in Southern states and was active in the abolitionist movement. She also served as a scout and a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.
“This is a museum dedicated to freedom and Harriet Tubman’s amazing contribution to black history,” said Simonsen. “I am proud we can honor her legacy and give people a place to go to learn more about this extraordinary woman who truly is an American hero.”
The museum also has exhibits in sections, beginning with pieces from Africa. From there, visitors will proceed to the slave trade, with exhibits outlining the global traffic in human beings and on slavery in New Jersey.
Over the coming weeks, as construction winds down and the rest of the displays are put in place, the museum will be open to private tours.
Gov. Phil Murphy is expected sign into law legislation Thursday sponsored by Sen. Michael Testa, McClellan and Simonsen designating the building as the Harriet Tubman Museum.
The museum trustees are leasing the building from the Macedonia Baptist Church, where Simonsen is a deacon.