In 1839, a group of gentlemen calling themselves The Alexandria Lyceum joined with the Alexandria Library Company to build a grand hall to provide a place for lectures, scientific experiments and quiet reading.
Eventually, the building itself became known as The Lyceum and, since that time, it has been a Civil War hospital, a private home, an office building and the nation's first Bicentennial Center. In 1985, The Lyceum became Alexandria's History Museum, providing exhibitions, school programs, lectures and concerts, volunteer opportunities and space for rental functions for the community. The Lyceum Museum Shop carries a wide variety of maps, books, note cards and special items related to Alexandria's history. The present-day Lyceum Company serves the museum as a membership and fund-raising organization.