Courtesy of Visit Alexandria

The Freedom House Museum in the heart of Alexandria, Va., will reopen on Friday, May 27, with three new exhibitions showcasing Alexandria’s Black history and the Black experience in America.

The National Historic Landmark is all that remains of a large complex used to traffic thousands of Black men, women and children between 1828 and 1861.

“The museum honors the lives and experiences of the enslaved and free Black people who lived in and were trafficked through Alexandria and seeks to reframe white supremacist history and provide visitors opportunities to learn, reflect and advocate for change,” said the museum in a statement.

The exhibits:

  • 1315 Duke Street highlights the stories of those who were brought from the Chesapeake Bay area, moved through 1315 Duke Street and forced into slave markets in the deep South. The exhibit includes archaeological artifacts, a model of the complex and stories of personal experiences of individuals trafficked through the domestic slave trade. The new exhibition was designed by Washington, D.C. firm Howard+Revis Design, whose former clients include the Smithsonian Institution and the National Civil Rights Museum.
  • Determined: The 400-Year Struggle for Black Equality, a traveling exhibition from the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, traces four centuries of Black history in Virginia through stories of extraordinary individuals who struggled for equality and, in the process, profoundly shaped the nature of American society. Determined in Alexandria is a companion exhibition about Black Alexandrians who built the foundations of our community while fighting for equality.
  • Before the Spirits Are Swept Away is a series of paintings of African-American sites by the late Sherry Z. Sanabria. The third floor also includes a reflection space with a bronze model of Alexandria’s Edmonson Sisters sculpture by artist Erik Blome.

The Freedom House Museum closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic and on March 24, 2020, the City of Alexandria purchased the building from the Urban League of Northern Virginia. Throughout the pandemic, work continued to protect and interpret the building, including the completion of the Historic Structures Report, research and the creation of three new exhibits. 

“When you enter the hallowed doors of the Freedom House Museum, you come face-to-face with the named and unnamed enslaved and free Black men, women and children who were trafficked through this site,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “Freedom House will inform visitors while challenging them to critically examine our history. I am proud that we are telling this story and honoring the lives and experiences of those who passed through this building.”

The museum will be open to the public on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays and Mondays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per adult, $3 per child ages 5–12, and free for City of Alexandria residents. For more information visit

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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