The historic structures and collections managed by Historic Alexandria reflect the diversity of centuries of Alexandria history and provide a context for understanding the broader scope of regional, state and national history.
The Office of Historic Alexandria is currently engaged in two new collecting initiatives, focusing on current events.
The Legacy of George Floyd: Documenting Alexandria’s Response
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.
Chronicling the Pandemic: Alexandria’s Story
As we experience this unprecedented time in the history of our town and the world, the Office of Historic Alexandria is embarking on a project to record our City’s response by conducting oral histories and collecting select memories, objects and documents from across the Alexandria community.
Historic Alexandria Collections Online
Historic Alexandria has officially launched a new website to showcase a select portion of its vast collection online. From silver to samplers, photos to forks, over 30,000 items are held in OHA's museums. To offer a taste of this variety, tour the different collections available now. Can you find Carlton Funn’s posters on Crispus Attucks, John Gadsby’s wine cooler, and a student chorus photograph from Parker-Gray High School?
The following collections can now be viewed at Historic Alexandria Collections Online. We will continue to add specific collections or collections’ highlights as their catalogues become available.
Alexandria Black History Museum
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
What do the Museums Collect?
Below is a brief description of each museum's collections.
Alexandria Archaeology Museum has an extraordinary collection of well-preserved artifacts from excavations. The breadth and depth of this collection make it one of the foremost collections for use in comparative studies in historic and urban archaeology. The collection contains over 2,000,000 artifacts, collected since 1965 from more than 150 archaeological sites in the City of Alexandria, Virginia.
Alexandria Black History Museum houses collections relating the history and accomplishments of African Americans in Alexandria. In addition, the museum collects documents and artifacts relating to a wide range of African American history and culture.
Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum's Collections
Alexandria History Museum’s collection includes the original 1839 lyceum building as well as over 5,000 objects related to the history of Alexandria, Virginia. The museum collects and interprets artifacts and history from all periods of the City's past, from the periods before its founding in 1749 through the present
Fort Ward Museum features a collection of over 2,000 objects from the Civil War period, primarily of Union origin, in conjunction with the Federal history of the site. Also included are a smaller number of Confederate objects, most pertaining to the war in Virginia, and items which interpret life in the South during wartime. The permanent collection is diverse, with holdings that include: military equipment related to the infantry, artillery, cavalry and navy; edged and shoulder weapons; flags; musical instruments; medical equipment; uniforms and clothing accessories; cooking and mess equipment; artwork, primarily period prints of both Union and Confederate significance; documents; photographs; and artifacts excavated at Fort Ward.
Friendship Firehouse Museum houses the 1851 Rogers Suction Engine and the 1858 Prettyman Hose Carriage, as well as firefighting tools and memorabilia of the Friendship Fire Company.
Gadsby's Tavern Museum consists of two buildings, a ca. 1785 tavern and the 1792 City Tavern, that provided a space for discussing revolutionary ideals and how to put them into practice in early America. The collection is wide and varied. From ceramics to furniture, each
object tells the story of the evolution of hospitality in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Photographic Collection documents the tavern’s 20th century journey from run-down buildings to world-class museum.
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum boasts a vast collection of herbal botanicals, hand-blown glass, medical equipment and archival materials used in this family business, in operation from 1792 until 1933. The Museum’s Archival Collection is comprised of letters, invoices, account books, and ledgers of the apothecary and pharmacy business owned by the Stabler and Leadbeater families from 1792-1933.
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.
Each museum follows a Collections Policy that includes a Scope of Collections statement in determining what objects to bring into the collection, so that objects can be used and cared for in the most appropriate setting. Learn more about donating objects or collections.
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. Gifts are tax deductible to the full extent of the law; see your tax accountant for more information.