After months of being closed during the holidays, a number of museums in Alexandria will be open to the public starting this Thursday, March 25.

The Alexandria Archaeology MuseumAlexandria History Museum at the LyceumFriendship Firehouse Museum and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum will open with modified hours, capacities, and advance ticket requirements, according to the city.

This follows a closure over the holidays during a surge, which ended up closing a number of museums.

“For the safety of museum staff, volunteers and guests, visitors are expected to follow the requirements of Executive Order 72 and the City mask ordinance,” the city advised. “Everyone ages 5 and older is required to wear masks that fit snugly over their nose and mouth at all times; to keep 6 feet of physical distance between households; and to wash hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethyl alcohol frequently.”

The following museums are still closed:

  • Alexandria Black History Museum (closed for renovation)
  • Archives and Records Center
  • Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site (closed for renovation)
  • Freedom House Museum (closed for renovation)
  • Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

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Even after an unforgettable year stricken by a pandemic, Alexandria has been named one of the best small cities in the United States.

Alexandria took the fifth spot in the Condé Nast Traveler’s 33rd annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The city placed third last year and fourth the year before that.

Here’s the top five small cities in the U.S. this year, according to the magazine:

  1. Charleston, South Carolina
  2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
  3. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
  4. Laguna Beach, California
  5. Alexandria, Virginia

According to Condé Nast:

Washingtonians are all in on the secret, but it’s no surprise the rest of the world is catching up: Alexandria, Virginia, the charming, historic city just across the Potomac River from our nation’s capital, draws travelers and would-be residents alike. Most folks start to imagine moving there just after setting foot in Old Town, once they’ve strolled the red brick sidewalks, clocking street after street of perfectly preserved rowhouses from the 18th and 19th centuries. When you visit, scope out King Street, packed with boutiques, restaurants, and specialty shops; then land at the waterfront, where you can watch the boats bobbing on the water before touring the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a collective of galleries and artists’ studios. End the day at Gadsby’s Tavern, where some of our founding fathers used to drink–don’t mind the actors in colonial garb.

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Old Town historical site Gadsby’s Tavern (134 N. Royal Street) is the latest local institution scheduled to reopen, with tours starting again this Friday.

According to the city website, the museum will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays from 1-4 p.m.

“In an effort to keep volunteers and visitors safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, City museums will initially reopen operating at 25% capacity, with reserved, timed tickets required to be purchased from The Alexandria Shop,” the city said in a news release. “Visitors will be able to tour the museum at their own pace and immerse themselves in the spaces and stories of the tavern.”

Tours of the facility are free for Alexandria residents and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Society members, and $5 for non-residents.

Visitors are required to wear a mask inside the facility.

Other recent historical tour reopenings include:

Photo via Gadsby’s Tavern/Facebook

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Morning Notes

COVID-19 Cases increase by 10 — “Positive tests up 10 to 2,759 in the City 7-day Positivity Rate down to 5.6% 0 new hospitalizations Still safer at home, wash hands, wear masks and support our essential workers.” [Twitter]

Beyer Votes for Republican Colleague by Proxy — “Beyer is a popular proxy choice for House Democrats, since he represents a Northern Virginia district that is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.” [Roll Call]

Volunteer Alexandria Hosting Emergency Disaster Response Class — “This class will teach you how to recognize violent activities, respond safely, provide immediate rescue tactics to the injured, and report them to 9-1-1 efficiently. The skills you will learn are transferable to countless situations involving traumatic injury, which include car accidents, household injuries, or an active shooter.” [Volunteer Alexandria]

WMATA Virtual Job Fair at 2 p.m. — “Attendees will meet the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMTA) team and learn more about immediate employment opportunities, including Metrobus Operator, Elevator/Escalator Apprentice, Special Police Officer and General Transit Mechanic. Apply after the event. Learn more about the event and register at the link below.” [City of Alexandria]

Delegate Herring and Councilman Chapman Hosting Chat on Policing at 6:30 p.m. — “Please join Councilman John Taylor Chapman for a Special Zoom Meeting With Delegate Charniele Herring, will give an update on the General Assembly Special Session in August about Criminal Justice Reform and Police.”  [Facebook]

Office of Historic Alexandria Harry Potter Trivia Night Canceled Over Racial Concerns — “While OHA intended to leverage a popular annual museum program to share elements of Alexandria’s African American history, residents have raised concerns about the event being perceived as disrespectful. Disrespect was never our intent and we have canceled the event. OHA strives to create historical programs that are uplifting and done through a lens of equity. Unfortunately, we failed to do so with this event. We are very proud of our African American history and always want to improve the visitor experience. We appreciate those community members letting us know their concerns.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s Weather — It will be partly cloudy most of the day, there will be a high temperature of 94 degrees and a 50% chance of thunderstorms at 10 p.m. [Weather.com]

New Job: Ice Cream Ambassador — “At Jeni’s, we’re devoted to making better ice creams and bringing people together.” [Indeed]

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Gadsby’s Tavern is one of Alexandria’s most notable historic landmarks, famous for hosting guests like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, but a new tour looks at the lives of slaves forced to work at the tavern.

A Complicated Hospitality Tour looks into the stories, experiences and archival records of the men and women enslaved by proprietor John Gadsby, according to an event description. While many depictions of slavery focus on the plantation system, this tour looks at the nuances of urban slavery and aims to explore how slaves lived in early Alexandria.

The tour is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person.

There are several events throughout Black History Month in Alexandria, including a screening of a movie about an African American woman in Alabama who spoke out against the white men who raped her, and a meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 11) of the Equal Justice Initiative — a group currently working to investigate two lynchings in Alexandria’s history.

Black history in Alexandria has had a prominent focus early in 2020, with the city purchasing the Freedom House museum at 1315 Duke Street, a new art installation on the waterfront focusing on the role of black Americans in the city’s industrial and agricultural origins, and the Manumission Tour Company spotlighting the city’s history with the Underground Railroad.

Photo via Gadsby’s Tavern Museum/Facebook

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