The Alexandria Black History Museum highlights the African-American experience in early Alexandria with exhibitions, speakers and interactive programs. Housed in a building originally constructed in 1940 as a library to serve black citizens, the museum examines African-American history, art and traditions.
In the early 1980s, the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage and the Parker-Gray Alumni Association saw the need to document Alexandria’s black history by collecting oral histories, artifacts and photographs.
In 1983, the City of Alexandria opened the building to these groups to establish the Alexandria Black History Resource Center, which was staffed by volunteers. In 1987, the City of Alexandria assumed operation of the center to develop exhibitions, educational programs and collections. In 2004, the center’s name was changed to the Alexandria Black History Museum to more accurately reflect its function of preserving the history of Alexandria’s African-American people, businesses and neighborhoods.
Open Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Closed: New Year's Day, Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
Additional Sites Related to Black History in Alexandria
The National Register of Historic Places lists several historic sites in Alexandria, Virginia as locations where African Americans lived, worked and worshiped during the period 1790 through 1951. These sites are open to the public year-round but as Black History Month is celebrated each year during the month of February, these sites offer special programs for visitors to learn about an important part of the cultural development in the Washington, DC Capital Region.
- Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site - 4301 West Braddock Road (703) 838-4848. The museum offers exhibits on Civil War topics including programs, tours, lectures and re-enactments.
- African American Heritage Park - Duke Street and Holland Lane. This nine acre memorial park surrounds a preserved 19th century African American cemetery. The park is available to rent for selected events.
- Watson Reading Room - Located next to the Alexandria Black History Museum, this non-circulating research repository focuses on issues of African-American history and culture.
- George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens - Mount Vernon, VA. George Washington was a slave owner. Each February, in observance of Black History Month, Mount Vernon highlights the lives and contributions of the slaves who built and operated the plantation home of George and Martha Washington. Throughout the month, a daily Slave Life at Mount Vernon tour explores the lives and contributions of the slaves who lived at Mount Vernon. A wreathlaying and presentation occurs daily at the slave memorial site throughout the month.