Press Release

Freedom House Museum in Alexandria To Reopen With Powerful New Exhibits

The museum, which closed in 2020, will welcome the public on May 27

Photo: Adedayo Dayo Kosoko for Visit Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Freedom House Museum at 1315 Duke Street will reopen on Friday, May 27, with brand-new exhibitions showcasing Alexandria’s Black history. A grand opening event is scheduled for Monday, June 20, when the Juneteenth holiday will be observed. Details on this grand opening event will be announced in the coming weeks.

The museum will be open to the public Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays and Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per adult, $3 per child ages 5–12, and free for City of Alexandria residents. Due to high demand and limited capacity, it is highly recommended that guests reserve tickets in advance online. 

The National Historic Landmark is what remains of a large complex used to traffick 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.

This museum seeks to reframe white supremacist history and provide visitors opportunities to learn, reflect, and advocate for change.

“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 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.”

Three new exhibits depict the roles of the historic site and Alexandria in the domestic slave trade, and share inspiring stories of African Americans in our community on three floors of the museum:

• 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. This first floor 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 and the meaning of our collective ideals. 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 (or maquette) of Alexandria’s well known Edmonson Sisters sculpture by artist Erik Blome, a gift to the Office of Historic Alexandria from former City Manager Mark Jinks and his wife, Eileen Jinks.

The Edmonson Sisters sculpture (Photo: Anna Frame for OHA)

The Freedom House Museum closed on March 17, 2020 due to the pandemic.

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 the aforementioned exhibits.

The site is integral to the understanding of Black history in Alexandria and the United States. It is part of Alexandria’s large collection of historic sites, tours, markers, and more depicting stories from the Colonial era to the present.

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