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D.C.-Area Freedom House Museum Reopens with Three Powerful New Exhibitions

Minutes from D.C. in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, the Freedom House Museum at 1315 Duke Street will reopen on Friday, May 27, 2022 with three new exhibitions showcasing Alexandria’sBlack history and the Black experience in America.

The National Historic Landmark is what remains of a large complex dedicated to trafficking 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.

The 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 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.

Freedom House Museum, purchased by the City of Alexandria in March 2020, is integral to the understanding of Black history in Alexandria and the United States and is part of Alexandria’s large collection of historic sites, tours, markers and more that depict stories of the Colonial era, through the Civil War and Civil Rights eras, to today. 

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Dmytro Makarov

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