City of Alexandria, VA
Page updated May 14, 2012 2:13 PM
Exhibitions at The Lyceum
This ongoing exhibition introduces Alexandria's history. It includes more than just the highlights of the City's past, providing a quick but well-rounded local history lesson. The exhibition is divided into six large sections that are split between The Lyceum's two largest galleries.
Changing Exhibits in the Coldsmith Gallery
The James Coldsmith Gallery is used for smaller exhibits that focus on some particular story within Alexandria's history.
Occupied City: Civil War Alexandria
“Occupied City: Life in Civil War Alexandria” examines life in an American town, seized and held by its own Federal government, following Virginia’s decision to secede from the Union in May 1861. See how Robert E. Lee’s hometown of Alexandria was transformed literally overnight from a prosperous, bustling commercial port into a supply, hospital, and transportation center for the Union Army, and find out why Alexandria became a destination for African Americans seeking freedom. Explore the experiences of Alexandrians and others who lived here during this tumultuous time, through their own words, as well as period photographs and collections items.
Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, November 17, 2009- June 27, 2010. This exhibition featured interactive displays and activities, with vintage uniforms, camping and hiking displays, cookie campaign items, and photos of Alexandria’s earliest Girl Scouts.
Alexandria At War, 1941 – 1945. It can fairly be said that the Second World War shaped the world as we know it today. The war also had great effects on the Washington area, including Alexandria. Many federal departments and programs grew tremendously, necessitating additional office space, living quarters for additional workers, and other facilities. Alexandrians shared the pain, fears, struggles, and joys of this remarkable period with most other American communities, but with the added challenges of doing so within the shadow of the nation’s capital. This exhibition gave visitors a sense of how the city’s own “greatest generation” met these challenges.
In the Neatest Most Fashionable Manner: Three Centuries of Alexandria Silver. This exhibition brought together more than 150 objects from some of America's most prominent institutions and private collections to tell the story of 27 Alexandria silversmiths. Focusing both on the craftsmen and their special forms such as military pieces and presentation work, the exhibition included a variety of flat and hollowware forms, sugar tongs, ladles, spectacles and serving pieces.
The Green Family of Cabinetmakers: An Alexandria Institution, 1817-1887. In 1817, William Green arrived in Alexandria with his wife Mary and his seven children and established a cabinetmaking business on King Street. For the next three generations, the Green family business grew to become one of Alexandria's largest enterprises, eventually serving customers in Washington, and the Shenandoah Valley. This exhibition showcased nearly three dozen Green furniture pieces.
History Makers offered a glimpse into the stories of a few Alexandrians who are represented in The Lyceum's collection through a variety of artifacts. Most of the people profiled in the exhibit never became famous, but learning about them helped us make a more personal connection to the past. The exhibit featured some unusual items and recent acquisitions from The Lyceum's collections, including fine silver pieces, a secretary, and a wheelbarrow -- all made in local shops -- along with an early 19th-century account book from an Alexandria merchant, and the late 18th-century meeting minutes of one of the city's first fire companies, the Sun Fire Company.
Made in Alexandria, 1790-1860: An Exhibit of Decorative Arts. This early exhibition was one of the first to be shown in The Lyceum as it evolved from a Bicentennial Center into the City's history museum. It was a general overview of Alexandria-made items from silver sauce ladles and side chairs to storage jars and iron downspouts. The exhibit also included some interesting items that had been in Alexandria's first museum, established by Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge Number 22 in 1818.
Photo by Gavin Ashworth, courtesy Ceramics in America.