Alexandria Archaeology Museum
Visit the Alexandria Archaeology Museum to learn how the City’s archaeologists, volunteers and students work with residents and developers to study and manage archaeological resources important to the community's past.
The main exhibit, Archaeologists at Work: The Lee Street Site, highlights one city block to provide a fascinating glimpse of Alexandria’s history and the way in which archaeologists study the past. Small “table top” exhibits feature other Alexandria sites and finds. Hands-on activities engage visitors of all ages. Learn more about exhibits.
Coming to the Museum
Current News and Information
Opportunities to Participate
Summer Camp 2014 took place from July 21 - 25, 2014. This popular program provides an opportunity for 12-15 year olds to work on a real archaeological dig. Read our 2013 Summer Camp Blog, see Camp photos on the Alexandria Archaeology Museum's Facebook page, and think about applying next spring for the 2015 Camp.
Family Dig Days 2014: Help City archaeologists screen excavated soil from a real dig on the grounds of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial! Space is limited and reservations are required. This popular program fills early!
- Shuters Hill is once again the site of this year's archaeological research and excavations. This ongoing excavation near the Masonic Memorial is exploring the Mills/Lee/Dulaney plantation, built in 1782. The mansion house burned in 1842, and was replaced by a larger brick house that was used by Union troops during the Civil War.
- Shields's Folly: A Bathhouse in Old Town. A deep feature discovered in a Royal Street basement in 2014 may be from an aborted effort to dig a well for Thomas Shields's bathhouse 200 years earlier. Read more about this new discovery.
- Fort Ward Park History and Archaeology. Excavations in 2013 focused on the 20th century African American community known as The Fort. This community is the focus of an effort by the Office of Historic Alexandria to study and preserve the post-Civil War historic resources of Fort Ward Park. Archaeological excavations in the park, historical research, and oral histories highlight our growing knowledge of this community. Learn about the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and about archaeological and historical research, including reports on excavations, transcriptions of oral history interviews with former residents. Visit Fort Ward Park to see new historic signage highlighting The Fort community. A copy of The Fort Heritage Trail Brochure is available online.
- Potomac Yard History and Archaeology: See a preview of the seven historical signs placed at Potomac Yard in 2012 (or visit the site to see the signs in person). Throughout ongoing development of Potomac Yard, the Office of Historic Alexandria has been committed to preserving its history. Learn more about the Potomac Yard planning and development process, and read a history of the site by Francine Bromberg, Archaeologist for Alexandria Archaeology.
Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery Memorial
Dedication Ceremony, Saturday September 6, 2014.
Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial will honor the memory of the Freedmen, the hardships they faced, and their contributions to the City. The Cemetery served as the burial place for about 1,800 African Americans who fled to Alexandria to escape from bondage during the Civil War. Read more about the history and archaeology of the site, learn about commemoration ceremonies, or purchase a commemorative ornament.
Construction of the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial has been proceeding steadily, and the project is almost completed, with only some minor replacements of trees and shrubs to go. The grass on the site is now growing thick and should be in perfect shape by the time of the September 6 dedication ceremony. All stone and artwork has been installed and inspirational inscriptions have been etched in stone blocks and bronze panels as necessary.
Archaeology at Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery: Learn about the archaeological studies conducted between 1996 and 2007 that provided tangible evidence of the cemetery's survival after more than 125 years of neglect and destruction. Of the approximately 1,800 graves once located in the cemetery, more than 500 were identified through archaeological investigations. The goals of the archaeological investigations focused on the identification of burial locations to ensure protection during development, future maintenance of the site, and the recovery of information about the cemetery for use in the memorial design process.
Civil War Sesquicentennial Events and Information
- At the Museum: Civil War Sundays. Explore the Civil War in Alexandria with Civil War Sundays, a showcase of an original May 26, 1861, edition New-York Tribune detailing Colonel Elmer Ellsworth’s death in Alexandria, a Peeps Diorama illustrating Ellsworth’s death, a TimeTravelers Passport exhibit featuring the Civil War drummer boy, diorama of a heating system constructed in Alexandria to warm Civil War hospital tents during the winter of 1861, a cocked and loaded Wickham musket discarded in a privy during the 1860s, and an exhibit on the Lee Street Site during the Civil War. Free! Weekly, 1-5 p.m.
- Bike Trail: Alexandria Civil War Defenses of Washington Bike Trail. To mark the Civil War Sesquicentennial, Alexandria, surrounding jurisdictions and the National Park Service created the the Civil War Defenses of Washington Bike Trail. A map, cue sheet and information on Civil War sites are provided for self-guided bike rides.
- The Current Dig: Shuter’s Hill. Alexandria Archaeology has completed its sixteenth season of excavation at the site of the Mills/Lee/Dulaney plantation on Shuter’s Hill, on the grounds of the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Visitors to the Museum may see artifacts from this site being washed and cataloged.Shuter’s Hill is an 18th century plantation and later estate occupied by Union troops. Shuter’s Hill became the site of two Union forts in the Defenses of Washington during the Civil War.
Other News and Information
- History Through Public Archaeology: Municipal Archaeology Programs and the Creation of Community Amenities. Article by Douglas R. Appler exploring how municipal archaeology programs found in Alexandria, Virginia; St. Augustine, Florida; and Phoenix, Arizona have played a prominent role in developing unique, place-based amenities that integrate local history with other community needs.
American Alliance of Museums