Motel X. Photo provided

Motel X opens January 11

Since 2012, human trafficking cases have steadily increased in the United States, rising to 10,949 cases reported last year. Ohio mirrors those numbers, with over 400 cases reported in 2018. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) is hoping to increase awareness and action against human trafficking with its new exhibition Motel X. The exhibition opens January 11, 2020 – Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Cincinnati sits on one of the worst highways for human trafficking in the United States. I-75 provides an easy pipeline for traffickers to transport people thousands of miles through multiple states. Many people are unaware of the practical knowledge that could help prevent human trafficking and possibly save victims. Designed by local filmmaker Christine Shrum specifically for display at NURFC, Motel X hopes to evoke an empathetic link to practical knowledge, give people the opportunity to fight against the atrocity of human trafficking and give survivors a platform to share their stories.

Motel X is an interactive motel for guests to explore. As they walk through the motel door, through the room, guests encounter the story of a teenage girl forced into sex slavery by human traffickers. Exiting the room and entering the bathroom, guests are introduced to an immigrant worker inadvertently caught up in trafficking humans. Throughout the exhibition clues reveal warning signs, statistics and actions that can help combat human trafficking. Interactive clues include audio tracks, dressers with items of clothing that reveal information when moved and a bedside Bible that, when opened, reveals stark facts about human trafficking. As guests exit the bathroom, they enter a gallery that will feature artwork from local survivors.

Motel X will run January 11 through April 5, 2020. Visit to learn more. 

NURFC remains committed to ending human trafficking as part of their End Slavery Now initiative. You can learn more about the initiative at

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