Visiting the Museum

Come “sea” history at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum at 2 High St. in Portsmouth on “First Saturdays” in 2020!  Admission is free on the “First Saturday” of each month (March through November) and includes added educational and activity programming.  When you visit on other days, admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors, and free for kids under 18 and active duty military.

CSS Virginia illustrationSaturday, March 7, 2020, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., is March’s “First Saturday” at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum and the first one offered in 2020.  Families and home schoolers take note: On Saturday, 3/7, stop by the free activity table in the gallery for an educator-led series of engaging activities about the history of ironclad ships, and the C.S.S. Virginia (ex Merrimack). Design and test a ship’s hull with a square of aluminum foil, examine copies of primary documents about early ironclads, and craft a paper origami cannon.

Map showing the sailing routes

Map of the Battle of Hampton Roads courtesy of American Battlefield Trust

In the museum’s temporary display case, see a private collection of artifacts, archival items, and souvenirs of the Battle of Hampton Roads, on loan from a local historian—only on display for the month of March! The Battle of Hampton Roads—the first battle of ironclad ships in American history—took place 158 years ago this weekend (March 8-9, 1862) at the confluence of the James, Nansemond, and Elizabeth Rivers. The battle between the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia was declared a draw, but naval architecture changed forever after the successful deployment of these newly-designed vessels. They were the antecedents of the enormous steel naval ships that we see in Portsmouth on a daily basis.

If you’ve been meaning to connect with local history, want to check out the museum’s displays about the history of Norfolk Naval Shipyard, or want to indulge your interest in Portsmouth’s rich maritime past, mark your calendar for March 7. There is also a gallery shop with items like Lightship Portsmouth t-shirts, Naval Shipyard Museum ornaments, in-depth books about local history, Cobi-brand Lego-compatible military model kits, and more!

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum researches, preserves, and promotes the history of the City of Portsmouth, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and the armed forces in Hampton Roads. The museum accomplishes its mission by offering exhibitions, publications, lectures, and educational programs.

Portsmouth Museum System Logos