After being closed for nearly three years, the Alexandria Black History Museum will reopen its doors this week with a new exhibit highlighting the Virginia city’s response to the murder of George Floyd.
The new exhibit, Preserving Their Names: The Black Lives Remembered Collection, includes over 300 images, as well artifacts that were submitted to the museum by members of the community.
In May 2020, Audrey Davis, the director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, and her team, decided to document the community response in real time by putting out a call to city residents.
“We started what was then called the George Floyd collecting initiative, and we asked people after protests and vigils and just even their reactions, if they had any kind of artifact from what was going on, not only in Alexandria but across the DMV,” Davis said.
Digital photographs submitted for the Black Lives Matter Remembered Collection can be seen on monitors throughout the exhibit with quotes that also tell the story of what some characterize as an unprecedented time in history.
“We’re delighted that so many people, you know, shared with us and we’re still collecting,” said Deborah Coblenz, one of the curators for the exhibit.
When people are welcomed back, Davis wants the city to see their response, how their neighbors and friends responded and how people came out to protest. And, in the digital age where people take hundreds of photos, “What were the most important images to you that you sent to us that documented your your time?”
“I think I want people to take away not only what happened in 2020, but how things are still unfortunately happening and how they can make a difference in their community,” she said.
Davis asks that anyone who wants to become more active to do so through the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project.
The Black Lives Matter Remembered Collection can now be viewed online and the community is invited to continue submitting items.
The museum will reopen on Thursday. Regular operating hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.
Admission is free for Alexandria residents and $3 for nonresidents.