Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia opens at the Leigh Street Armory


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia is officially opening Tuesday at its new location at the Leigh Street Armory.

The museum, now located at 122 W. Leigh Street, features more than 12,000 square feet across two floors that illustrate the African American experience in the Commonwealth and beyond.

The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and on Sundays by appointment only.

Permanent exhibitions on the first floor include 46-inch interactive touchscreens and artifacts and panels which detail Emancipation, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights eras. Each of the first floor galleries contain “Children’s Zones:” interactive exhibitions specifically designed for kids and housed in the building’s turrets.

The second floor features nationally recognized traveling exhibitions. Right now, the “Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution” exhibition showcases more than 50 vibrant pieces of 1970s animation art. The exhibition will run from May through August.

In September, a traveling Romare Bearden exhibition, “Vision to Activism,” will replace the Funky Turns 40 exhibition and runs through December. Bearden was an African American artist of the 20th century (arguably the greatest, the museum says in a news release.) His collages will attract visitors from Virginia and the east coast.

Later in 2016, a multimedia research room will open and allow visitors to explore their genealogy.

“For 34 years, the Black History Museum has been the only museum in Richmond focused on telling and preserving African American history in Virginia. We are charged with telling that story as it was central in shaping America’s history,” said Tasha Chambers, museum director.

Renovations to the Leigh Street Armory began in 2014. The building was originally constructed in 1895 and served as the base for the First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Infantry, Richmond’s first African American regiments. Through the years, the property also was used as temporary housing, a recreational hall for African American troops during World War II and a school until the 1950s.

“The museum is a resource to learn about black history and Virginia’s past through exhibitions, discussions and celebrations,” said Marilyn H. West, Black History Museum and Culture Center of Virginia board chair. “We’re looking forward to opening the doors to the community to continue the museum’s legacy of educating visitors about African American history.”

Admission costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students with IDs, $6 for children between three and 12-years-old and children two and under are free. Membership for the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia includes admissions and starts at $35 per year. Click here for more information.

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