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Arlington’s Black Heritage Museum Opens in Temporary Home

Arlington’s Black Heritage Museum, once only a virtual museum, opened a physical, though temporary, location today (May 1).

A bit sparse, the museum’s exhibits and decor are still in the works; at least one exhibit room still needs to be filled. Though it opened in 1996, the museum has only had an online presence.

It’s a relatively bare-bones space, nestled on the top floor above the Sun Trust bank at 3108 Columbia Pike. It’s intended to be temporary until a suitable, permanent home for the collection can be located.

“It is what it is,” said Portia Clark, the museum’s volunteer office manager and the Nauck Civic Association’s president.

“For now, we just need a presence, so we don’t have a preference,” Clark added.

While additional exhibits are lined up, those currently available provide a glimpse into what Clark calls the rich history of the three predominantly African American communities in Arlington — Nauck, Hall’s Hill and Johnson’s Hill (now Arlington View).

In one area of the musuem, a visitor can learn about the life of prominent African-American Arlingtonian John Robinson; in another, the history of how black Arlingtonians never could truly say that they were born in the county since black families had to go to Washington to give birth, according to Clark.

“There are so many stories to be told,” she said. “There’s a number of stories that we’re still collecting to tell.”

Volunteer staff are still planning fundraising events, and Clark said that the museum hoped to raise much-needed funds at a Founders Day event, as well as at a possible art show and a book signing later in the summer.

The Black Heritage Museum is currently open on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., on Thursdays from 3 p.m.-6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., but different exhibit viewing times can be arranged by calling ahead and making a request.

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