Alexandria Black History Museum

The mission of the Black History Museum is to enrich the lives of Alexandria's residents and visitors, to foster tolerance and understanding among all cultures and to stimulate appreciation of the diversity of the African American experience.

Page updated on May 13, 2021 at 6:45 PM

The Alexandria Black History Museum

The Alexandria Black History Museum includes the Museum, the Watson Reading Room, and the Alexandria African American Heritage Park. Other African American historic sites in Alexandria include the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial, and the Freedom House Museum.


Museum Closures and Covid-19 Operational Guidelines

Many of the museums are closed and public programs are cancelled until further notice. Check the Historic Alexandria homepage to see the latest on which museums are now open.

The Office of Historic Alexandria established the following guidelines to ensure consistent operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff will regularly re-evaluate them based on safety and available staffing levels and as the region moves through Phase 3 of the Forward Virginia plan. Includes guidelines for guided tours, volunteers, rentals, public programs and events, and on-site research and collections use by the public.

Covid-19 Operation Guidelines


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Virtual Tour

Visit us on Google 360 virtual tours:


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May is Historic Preservation Month. This year, Historic Alexandria and its partners are focusing on Equity in Preservation. We invite you to our lectures on the free Black population of Alexandria before the Civil War; the demographic evolution of the District of Columbia, of which Alexandria was once a part; a history of Franklin and Armfield, the notorious slave trading firm that once operated out of what is now the Freedom House Museum; and housing practices in Alexandria from the Civil War until today. You can also join masked and socially-distanced walking tours of Alexandria's historic buildings.


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Join us for a series of four free virtual lectures with historian Susan Strasser, an award-winning historian and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Please note this events will not be recorded. Lectures are on Saturdays at 1 p.m. on March 20, April 24, May 15 and June 12.


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Following the tragic murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the Alexandria Black History Museum put out a call to the community to help us to document the legacy of the local community’s response to this tragedy and the wave of peaceful protests and vigils that followed. These donations form the basis of the Museum’s new Black Lives Remembered Collection. View items from the collection here. New submissions are still received here.


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The Alexandria Black History Museum’s The Moss Kendrix Collection was a 2020 honoree in the Virginia Association of Museums’ Top 10 Endangered Artifacts.



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The Parker-Gray School provided African American children with comprehensive education at a time when segregation and lack of resources, teachers, and facilities threatened what is now understood as a fundamental right of every child. On the 100th anniversary of Alexandria’s Parker-Gray High School, the City of Alexandria joined the Alexandria African-American Hall of Fame and Parker-Gray Alumni in commemorating this historical legacy. 


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Story Time with Young Historians is presented by the Alexandria Black History Museum. Each video features a picture book that introduces history and promotes diversity for young readers. A Museum Educator provides historical context and local community connections. New videos released the first Tuesday of every month. 


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Some of the Historic Alexandria museums are closed until further notice. Luckily, history doesn’t stop just because our doors are closed! Visit us here on our website and follow us on social media to discover new things about your hometown.


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Alexandria’s African American history is told through an online StoryMap and can be experienced in-home on your computer or on your smartphone as you walk the trail along the Potomac River. The walking trail lasts about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. The webpage presents more in-depth information about the stops highlighted in the StoryMap.


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While the Alexandria Black History Museum is closed, you can still engage with paintings from Sherry Z. Sanabria featured in our exhibition "Before the Spirits are Swept Away.." Through Sanabria's artistic lens, explore the vanishing landscape of slave housing in America. In these paintings, she seeks to capture the spirt of the place and the people who inhabited these spaces. The paintings are available to view through our Online Collections.


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The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama includes over 800 steel monuments, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place. Their Community Remembrance Project invites jurisdictions to claim and install a copy of their monument. The City of Alexandria is committed to claiming Alexandria’s monument in partnership with EJI.


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Peaceful vigils, protests and other events took place in Alexandria during the first week in June, following the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. Recognizing the importance of this moment in history, the Office of Historic Alexandria invites the community to share signs, t-shirts, flyers, photographs, journals, personal stories, and artifacts that document local vigils and protests. 


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Over the past year, OHA has recorded our community's response to the pandemic by collecting objects, images and stories from citizens across the City. See a sampling of this public history collecting effort, and learn more about contributing to this on-going project. 


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Miss visiting your favorite Historic Alexandria sites? Looking for some fun historic activities to share with your kids at home? Let our staff bring history virtually to you! 


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Location, hours, directions, and everything you need to know to visit the Alexandria Black History Museum. Open Tuesday to Saturday. 
Parking and Trolley Map | Print an eCoupon


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The Museum at 1315 Duke Street was once the headquarters and holding pen for the largest domestic slave trading firm in the United States. We invite you to visit the museum in this historic reminder of slavery. 


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Alexandria Black History Museum incorporates the Robert H. Robinson Library as one of two exhibition galleries. The Robinson Library was originally constructed in 1940 following a sit-in at the segregated Alexandria Library. Learn more about the Sit-Down Strike, the Parker-Gray School and the Alexandria Black History Research Center.


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Watson Reading Room, established in 1995, provides an environment for learning about the diversity of African American cultural traditions. Located next door to the Alexandria Black History Museum, the Watson Reading Room is a non-circulating research repository focusing on issues of African-American history and culture.


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This nine-acre green space and wetland includes a 19th century African American cemetery. The focal point of the park is a sculpture group of bronze trees called "Truths That Rise From the Roots Remembered." The Park, located at 500 Holland Lane just south of Duke Street, offers a place for celebration, commemoration and quiet reflection.


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The Memorial, at 1001 S. Washington Street, served as the burial place for about 1,800 African Americans who fled to Alexandria to escape from bondage during the Civil War. The Memorial opened in 2014 to honor the memory of the Freedmen, the hardships they faced, and their contributions to the City.


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Visit Fort Ward Park to see historic signage highlighting the post-Civil War African American community known as The Fort. The Fort 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. 


Museum and Office Hours

Note: the museums and offices are closed and public programs are cancelled until further notice.    

Closed
New Year's Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas

Office Hours 
Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by appointment. 

Museum Archives 
Open by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact the museum’s curators at 703.746.4356 or by  email

Email the Museum

Email the Black History Museum

Event Tickets 

To purchase tickets to events at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, and to shop online, visit The Alexandria Shop


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American Alliance of Museums
Accredited Museum
 

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