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.
Portsmouth Art &
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.
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.
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.