If you’re headed to the Arthur Ashe Boulevard ceremony on Saturday, stick around for free admission to “Determined: The 400-Year Struggle for Black Equality” and a virtual reality experience on Arthur Ashe at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
“Determined” traces the ways black people have shaped the course of American history and culture in their fight for freedom and equality.
Roughly 100 artifacts are on display in the new exhibit, including a 19th century African-inspired banjo, a copy of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery signed by Abraham Lincoln, coverage of L. Douglas Wilder’s election to governor and Ashe’s tennis shoes.
“My chief aims are for people to gain a deeper appreciation for the determination and perseverance of black people over the last 400 years,” Karen Sherry, the exhibit curator, said. “I also hope visitors come away with a deeper appreciation for how profoundly the black struggle for equality has shaped the character of our commonwealth and our country. In many ways, I see this exhibit as American history, not just black American history. Those two things are inseparable.”
She pointed out a 19th century stringed instrument carved out of a gourd at the beginning of the exhibit as an example.
“Even though this object dates from the 19th century, it represents much earlier, centuries-old African musical traditions of making stringed instruments using gourds. This object represents the profound influence African traditions have had on American traditions, particularly in music,” Sherry said.
The exhibit covers the time period from 1619, when the first captive Africans arrived in North America, to today.
Hip-hop star Missy Elliott’s bedazzled track suit jacket is on display, as well as a spent tear gas canister from the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
At the Arthur Ashe Boulevard entrance to the museum, visitors can also explore an Arthur Ashe virtual reality exhibit.
“Ashe ‘68” is an eight-minute virtual reality experience that takes viewers into the moments before Arthur Ashe’s historic win at the 1968 U.S. Open.
On the sidewalk in front of the museum, the public can check out photos of Arthur Ashe’s victory at the U.S. Open by Life photographer John Zimmerman. The photos have been mounted and will be on view through July 7.
Suggested admission to the museum is typically $5 to $10, but will be waived Saturday to all exhibits inside the museum in honor of the Arthur Ashe Boulevard dedication.