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Amid a busy month, Arlington’s Black Heritage Museum continues search for a permanent home

The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington on Columbia Pike (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) It’s set to be a busy month at the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington as it continues to look for a permanent home.

The museum is participating in a number of Black History Month programs while preparing to put up new exhibits, museum director Scott Taylor told ARLnow.

This past weekend, the museum partnered with the Columbia Pike Partnership and the Embassy of Switzerland on a program focused on the importance of museums in the community.

On Sunday (Feb. 5), families and staff from Tuckahoe Elementary School visited the museum. Plus, Taylor monitored a panel last night for the local PBS station WETA discussing the production of last year’s documentary series “Making Black America.”

Coming up on Sunday, Feb. 19, the museum is again partnering with WETA as well as the Arlington Public Library for a screening of the documentary American Masters: Roberta Flack at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse on Columbia Pike.

Flack is known for several number-one hits including “Killing Me Softly” and grew up in Green Valley.

All of these events and programs have kept Taylor so busy that he hasn’t had a chance to put up any new exhibits, but that’s hopefully changing this week.

The museum is planning to set out a display featuring items from what was once Hoffman-Boston High School, Arlington’s only high school for Black students at a time when the county’s schools were segregated.

“We have some sixty-plus-year-old yearbooks that people see and feel and look at,” Taylor said.

There will also be a “few new things” from Fire Station 8, including several firemen hats and boots. Located in Halls Hill, it was Arlington’s only fire station staffed with Black firefighters. A state-of-the-art station is replacing the old one and is expected to be completed later this year.

Later this month, Taylor plans to put up an exhibit about Camp Casey featuring a gun from the era as well.

All of this comes as the museum continues its search for a permanent home. In September, it moved into a new space with the Columbia Pike Partnership on the first floor of the Ethiopian Community Development Council building at 3045B Columbia Pike.

While Taylor appreciates the temporary home, it is small and the museum is often unable to do everything it wants to do.

“Arlington needs this and, most people who come through, want [us] to expand,” he said. “I have things that I can’t even put up because we don’t have enough space.”

The museum is not close to finding its own home, Taylor said, noting money is the main obstacle.

“The rent in Arlington is just crazy. These new buildings want $10,000 a month,” he said.

At their grand re-opening in September, Taylor said he had a conversation with several County Board members about possibly moving into the building across the street if it ends up getting redeveloped by the county into a library.

But that remains only a possibility and somewhat far in the future.

The Black Heritage Museum is a “big asset” to the county, he said, one that he says needs to be cherished and given assistance to.

“This history is not being taught in schools. We bring voices to unsung heroes,” Taylor said. “This history belongs to Arlington.”

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