The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
Celebrating stories that must be told
Welcome to the ultimate home of rich history, deep heritage and world-changing accomplishment. The Black History Museum tells the famous, forgotten and always inspiring stories of African American history in Virginia. The BHMVA’s collection includes art, artifacts, textiles, photographs, rare books, and music – and they also host traveling exhibitions, literary talks and special events throughout the year. Museumgoers particularly enjoy the presentation of the information, which blends both traditional presentation in the form of artifacts and placards and interactive touch screens.
The site of the museum itself tells a story of African American achievement. Located in the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood, the BHMVA is housed in The Leigh Street Armory.
The armory was built by skilled black craftsmen and laborers in 1894-95, providing Virginia’s black soldiers with an armory to call their own. In 1899, just four years after the armory opened, the city converted it into a school for African American children. In 1942, the building became the Monroe Center, a recreation center for black troops. In 1945, it became an annex and a gym for local schools, then home to the Colored Special School from 1952-54. After a fire and decades of abandonment, the building was rehabilitated, and became the BHMVA’s home in 2016.
BHMVA has recently placed on Fodor’s list of “15 Unmissable Black History Museums Across America”. Along with general admission, guided tours of the museum are available by appointment.