United States


The Lyceum: Alexandria History Museum

In 1839, a group of gentlemen calling themselves The Alexandria Lyceum joined with the Alexandria Library Company to build a grand hall to provide a place for lectures, scientific experiments and quiet reading.

Eventually, the building itself became known as The Lyceum and, since that time, it has been a Civil War hospital, a private home, an office building and the nation's first Bicentennial Center. In 1985, The Lyceum became Alexandria's History Museum, providing exhibitions, school programs, lectures and concerts, volunteer opportunities and space for rental functions for the community. The Lyceum Museum Shop carries a wide variety of maps, books, note cards and special items related to Alexandria's history. The present-day Lyceum Company serves the museum as a membership and fund-raising organization.


he Lyceum's collection includes the original 1839 lyceum building constructed by The Lyceum Company and the Alexandria Library Company as well as over 1,500 objects relating to the history of Alexandria, Virginia. In 1992, The Lyceum achieved accreditation by the American Association of Museums, a distinction awarded to the nation's leading museums.

The original lyceum building is the museum's most treasured artifact, representing one of the country's best examples of Greek Revival architecture. Since its construction more than 150 years ago, The Lyceum has been used as a cultural center, a barracks and hospital, a private residence, an office building and as Virginia's first Bicentennial Center. The early history of the building is told in an interpretive display located on the first floor of the museum.

Although Alexandria is fortunate to have several specialized museums, The Lyceum is the only one that collects and interprets artifacts and history from all periods of the City's past, from its founding in 1749 through the present day. (Alexandria Archaeology collects material earlier than 1749.) The collection includes architectural fragments removed from the building during renovation, furniture, textiles, ceramics, silver, glass, records from Alexandria businesses, tools, art, newspapers, toys and almost anything else that would help to tell the community's story.

Particular strengths of the collection are: silver, including late 18th- and early 19th-century pieces made by Charles Burnett, Adam Lynn, William Williams and John P. Latruite; ceramics, with an emphasis on 19th-century stoneware made and/or sold in Alexandria by John Swann, H.C. Smith, B.C. Milbur...+ [ Read all ]



Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday: 1 pm to 5 pm
Closed: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas

Getting there

The Lyceum is located in Old Town Alexandria, near many shops, restaurants, and other museums and historic sites. Alexandria is half-way between Washington, D.C. and Mount Vernon.

From Washington, D.C., and National Airport
Take the George Washington Parkway south, past the airport, into Alexandria . The Parkway becomes Washington Street in the City. After you cross King and Prince Street (about one mile), the Lyceum will be on your right.

From I-95/I-495 (Capital Beltway)
Take the US Route 1 North exit (first exit on the Virginia side of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge). Follow Route 1 (Patrick Street) about one mile. Turn right on Prince Street; turn right on South Washington Street. The Lyceum on your right.

By Metro
Take the yellow or blue line to King Street station. Cross the parking lot and turn left, one half block to Prince Street. Turn left (east) on Prince Street and walk about one mile to Washington Street. Turn right, and the Lyceum will be on your right. Or take the Dash Bus to King and Washington Streets, turn right and walk one block past Prince Street. Call (703) 370-DASH for bus schedules and information, or check the schedules posted at the station.

By Train
Take Amtrak or Virginia Railway Express to Alexandria's Union Station (across the tracks from King Street Metro station). Upon exiting the train station, walk to your right to King Street and follow directions from Metro.


Free parking in adjacent lot while visiting the Museum and the nearby Friendship Firehouse Museum.


The museum is wheel-chair accessible. The City of Alexandria complies with the terms of ADA.

Museum internal and external photos (1)

Click on the images to enlarge


* Scavenger Hunt for History
Virginia SOLs: VS.1-2, VS.6-9, USI.1, USI.3

The Lyceum Museum is the setting for students to explore and discover Alexandria’s past. Using clue sheets they will find objects that played a role in the growth of the City founded in 1749.

Program: 1 ¼ hours
Grades: 3 – 6
Recommended Group Size: Up to 48 students
Chaperones: One chaperone required per 10 to 12 students

The Lyceum's programs can be combined with programs offered by Alexandria's other museums and historic sites.

The Lyceum: Alexandria's History Museum
201 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Venue hire

In its continuing role as a venue for all sorts of community activities, The Lyceum's Lecture Hall is available to you for weddings, meetings, receptions, recitals, concerts and lectures. The diagram at right will give you an idea of the room's layout and available space. The room is elegantly appointed with wall-to-wall carpeting, rose-colored draperies and coordinating upholstered armchairs. Some other useful features are:

* recessed, controlled lighting
* a large movie screen and separate projection booth
* excellent acoustics
* a platform stage, which is accessible to those with mobility impairments
* a concert grand piano
* a small kitchen adjoining, with refrigerators, sinks and work space for caterers
* special rate discounts

Functions can be held at The Lyceum either during the museum's open hours or after it has closed for the evening. Exhibition galleries can be opened for viewing after hours and similar arrangements can be made with The Lyceum Museum Shop.