Smithsonian Museum Day Offers Free Admission to Three Historic Alexandria Museums on September 24

Page archived as of November 23, 2015

Three Historic Alexandria museums are participating in the Smithsonian’s seventh annual Museum Day on Saturday, September 24. On that day, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Alexandria Archaeology Museum, and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum will be offering free admission to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket.

The Museum Day Ticket is available to download at Visitors who present the official pass will gain free admission for two people to participating museums and cultural venues. In 2010, Museum Day participants downloaded 227,747 tickets resulting in more than 500,000 museum-goers visiting over 1,300 venues in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street, consists of two buildings, a ca. 1785 tavern and the 1792 City Hotel, which are named for John Gadsby who operated them from 1796 to 1808. His establishment was a center of political, business, and social life in early Alexandria. The tavern was the setting for dancing assemblies, theatrical and musical performances, and meetings of local organizations. George Washington enjoyed hospitality there and twice attended the annual Birthnight Ball held in his honor. Other prominent patrons included John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Visitors to the historic tavern will learn about the history, architecture, decorative arts, social customs, food, and clothing of a past era. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4242.

At the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, located inside the Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 North Union Street, #327), visitors can discover Alexandria’s once-buried past through artifacts and excavations. Learn about the archaeology and history unearthed during the Lee Street site excavation with the exhibit, “A Community Digs Its Past,” and see unique artifacts from an 18th-century wharf, 19th-century taverns, and a Civil War hospital. Also on display is Alexandria’s oldest artifact, a 13,000-year-old Clovis point recovered in 2007. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4399.

The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, 105-107 South Fairfax Street, is noted for its outstanding collection of shop furnishings, apothecary bottles and equipment, and archival materials, many still in their original location. When the Apothecary closed during the Depression in 1933, the doors were simply locked, preserving the contents for history. More than 8,000 objects, including pill rollers, mortars and pestles, drug mills, and hand-blown glass medicine bottles with gold-leaf labels, were left in place. Medicinal herbs and paper labels remain in their wooden drawers. Large show-globes from the mid-19th century remain in the windows. It also has a spectacular collection of archival materials, including journals, letters and diaries, prescription and formula books, ledgers, orders and invoices. The names of famous customers appear in the documents, including Martha Washington, Nelly Custis and Robert E. Lee. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.3852.