What do the Historic Alexandria Museums Collect?
Each museum follows a Collections Policy that includes a Scope of Collections statement in determining what objects to bring in to the collection, so that objects can be used and cared for in the most appropriate setting. See a brief description of each Museum's collection below.
How to Donate Your Objects or Collections
If you have objects that you may want to donate to Historic Alexandria Museums, please contact the appropriate museum, or contact the curator at Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, who can direct you to the right place.
Gifts to the Office of Historic Alexandria’s historic collections and libraries become the property of the City of Alexandria, Virginia. They are held by the Museums in public trust, to be preserved and used as a resource and legacy for future generations of residents, visitors and researchers.
The Alexandria Archaeology Museum collects archaeological materials from professional excavations within the current City limits of Alexandria. The collections result from excavation and survey conducted by the staff of Alexandria Archaeology, or by consultant archaeologists complying with local, state or Federal preservation laws. The landowners have an obligation under the preservation laws to ensure that the collections are properly curated in a facility that meets Federal standards for the care of archaeological collections, and where they can be made available for further research. The landowners may donate collections from Alexandria sites to the Museum, where they will be curated at no charge. Other options for curation include loans to the Museum, or loans or donations to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in Richmond, but curation fees would apply.
The museum may also accept artifacts found on a homeowners’ property. Donations of artifacts resulting from chance finds or other excavation activities will be carefully considered by staff for their archaeological merit including relevance and importance to the history of Alexandria as well as the degree and quality of documentation. The donor must legally own the objects, meaning that they can not have been illegally removed from public or private property. Please note that it is illegal to metal detect or to remove artifacts from public property including City, State or Federal parks, the shoreline of the Potomac River and other stream beds. Individuals interested in donating artifacts should contact the Curator by email or call 703.746.4399.
Alexandria Black History Museum’s (ABHM) collections preserve Alexandria, Virginia’s African American history from 1749 to the present. In addition, the museum collects documents and artifacts relating to a wide range of African and African American history. Paintings, photographs, books, artifacts and oral histories comprise the museum’s collections. The ABHM has a special collection on Alexandria’s Parker-Gray School. Other collections include the Moss Kendrix Collection, which documents the life of a pioneering African American advertising executive. In 2008, and a new ABHM collection was introduced. This collection preserves campaign ephemera relating to the historic election of President Barack Obama.
Individuals interested in donating objects or reference materials to the Alexandria Black History Museum should contact the Director or Curator by email or call 703.746.4356.
Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum
As both a community history museum and a historic site, Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum collects artifacts representing all time periods of Alexandria and the surrounding region’s past, as well as objects relevant for interpreting The Lyceum as a historic site. Any items that might assist in helping tell the community’s story are of interest. For more information contact the Curator by email or 703.746.4994.
The Fort Ward Museum collection features objects that broadly interpret the history of the site, the Civil War Defenses of Washington, and local history related to wartime Alexandria. The focus of the Museum’s acquisitions policy is to collect objects and reference materials that contribute to interpreting the following themes:
- the history of Fort Ward and how it reflects the construction and operation of a typical Civil War fort in the Defenses of Washington
- the history of the forts and soldiers stationed in the Defenses of Washington
- the army life of the Federal soldier in the defense system as interpreted by objects of Union provenance including arms, equipment, personal effects, documents and photographs
- the role Alexandria played as a vital Union headquarters, transportation center and supply base for the Union army
- the lives of soldiers and civilians in Union-occupied Alexandria and the Washington area.
The Fort Ward Museum library includes specialized research materials on the Defenses of Washington. While donations of original documents and images are accepted, copies of soldiers’ letters, diaries, military documents and photographs from private collections that are vital to expanding the Defenses of Washington reference collection are welcome. Individuals interested in donating books to the library collection or for occasional book sales sponsored by the Friends of Fort Ward should contact the staff first before dropping books off at the Museum.
Individuals interested in donating objects or reference materials to the Museum should contact the Director or Curator by email or call 703.746.4848.
The Friendship Fire Company Collection is administered by the staff of The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum. Individuals interested in donating materials related to Friendship, or Alexandria’s historic volunteer firefighting companies, should contact the Curator of The Lyceum by email or 703.746.4994.More on the Collections...
The purpose of Gadsby's Tavern Museum is threefold: to preserve and authentically furnish the buildings known as Gadsby’s Tavern Museum; to acquire, preserve, and exhibit artifacts and works-of-art of the mid-to-late 18th century, early 19th-century and 20th-century preservation history appropriate to the Tavern; and to provide enlightening and enjoyable programs of interpretation for the public. Objects may be added into the permanent collection by means of gift, bequest, or purchase. The object must comply with the recommendations set forth in the Historic Furnishing Plan, be relevant to the interpretation and understanding of the stated historical period (1785-1810), or reflect the subsequent history of the two buildings. Adequate history of the object must be established before it is accepted into the permanent collection. The donor must have clear title to the object and convey this title and all rights of ownership to the Museum without restrictions. The director may request that an appraisal of the object’s value be obtained from a professional appraiser, at the donor’s expense. Staff will not knowingly accept any object that has been stolen or obtained in a false or suspicious manner. The Museum reserves the right to refuse any gift or bequest it does not deem appropriate and in the best interest of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum or the City of Alexandria. Individuals interested in donating should contact the Director by
email or call 703.746.4242.
The purpose of Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum is to promote a greater understanding of historic public health issues, inspire people with the values of Quaker founder, Edward Stabler, and engage the visitor in an appreciation of our local and national history by sharing the story of this business and family’s profound effect on the community in such diverse areas as education and the abolition of slavery. Objects may be added into the permanent collection by means of gift, bequest, or purchase. The object must be relevant to the interpretation and understanding of the stated historical period (1796-1933), or reflect the subsequent history of the two buildings. Adequate history of the object must be established before it is accepted into the permanent collection. The donor must have clear title to the object and convey this title and all rights of ownership to the Museum without restrictions. The director may request that an appraisal of the object’s value be obtained from a professional appraiser, at the donor’s expense. Staff will not knowingly accept any object that has been stolen or obtained in a false or suspicious manner. The Museum reserves the right to refuse any gift or bequest it does not deem appropriate and in the best interest of Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum or the City of Alexandria. Individuals interested in donating should contact the Managing Director by email or call 703.746.3852.