Museums


The City of Portsmouth owns and operates five museums, with an additional three privately owned museums. Together, they provide insight into what makes Portsmouth such a vibrant and diverse city by showcasing its history, heritage, and culture.

Children’s Museum of Virginia

Where children can imagine, explore, and discover through play.

Children’s Museum of Virginia is the largest of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Two floors of interactive exhibits, along with an unrivaled antique toy and train exhibit and state of the art planetarium, make this museum one of the most fascinating you’ll find anywhere.

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM WEBSITE

Beazley
Planetarium

A full dome planetarium offering a variety of educational showings, from volcanoes to mythology.

The Lancaster Toy and
Train Exhibit

Step onto the train depot platform and walk along the ‘tracks’ to the multi-tiered Lancaster Train exhibit.

The Bubbles Exhibit

Create larger than life bubbles of various shapes and sizes in one of the museum’s most popular (and fun) exhibits.

Dr. Forces Traveling
Energy Extravaganza

A carnival sideshow demonstrates energy & physical sciences. Find out if you can lift the giant elephant!

Children’s Museum
Gift Shop

Take the excitement of learning home with a selection of toys, kits, and books.

LEARN MORE

Portsmouth Art &
Cultural Center

Dedicated to providing quality exhibits & workshops.

This Greek-Revival building built in 1846, served as the Norfolk County Courthouse until 1960. It is now home to the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, with two spacious galleries of ever-changing exhibits. Along with hosting a variety of workshops, the courtyard is usually abuzz with artist demonstrations and live music on First Friday’s from May through October.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Bring Home More Than a Memory

Shop local artistry – handmade jewelry, sculptures and more!

LEARN MORE

Lightship Portsmouth

A National Historic Landmark fitted with period accessories.

Launched in 1916, the Lightship Portsmouth was first stationed at Smith Island Shoals, Virginia and subsequently donated and dry docked at the London Pier in Portsmouth in 1964, where she took on her name. You can walk through one of the small number of surviving lightships, as the ship’s quarters are fitted out realistically with artifacts, uniforms, and more.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Portsmouth Colored Community Library

Promoting knowledge of African American history.

Built in 1945, the Portsmouth Community Library opened on South Street as a brain-child of the African American society, rather than a “Colored” or “Negro” off-spring library like in other communities. The building moved twice more, until 2007 when it found its final home on Elm Street. The City helped in efforts to renovate the historic building, which has been in operation as the Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum since 2013.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Private Museums

Railroad Museum of Virginia

Engine No.1134 steam locomotive was discovered in Roanoke, Virginia, brought to Portsmouth & renovated to become an educational museum.

Learn More

Hill House Museum

A historic home in Olde Towne, fully furnished with generations of family belongings from the 19th and 20th centuries, all left in their original places.

LEARN MORE

Jewish Museum & Cultural Center

This rare example of Eastern European Jewish Orthodoxy is where visitors can learn about Jewish culture and view artifacts and exhibits.

Learn More

Explore more culture in
Arts & Entertainment

ARTS & CULTURE
EXPLORE THE VISITOR
DIRECTORY