Free Museum Day in Historic Portsmouth

Historic Olde Towne Portsmouth is hosting a free museum day on Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. With 11 different locations participating in museum day there is an opportunity to explore all that Olde Towne has to offer.    

Free parking will be available in the garages on 200 County Street or 441 Middle Street, or along the street.  

The museums are laid out in a 2.5 mile circuit so visitors can walk from one museum to another. The Olde Towne Courtesy Shuttle will also be available for door-to-door service.

Maps will be available at all participating locations. Please note that not all of the participating museums are handicap accessible.  

You can visit the following sites for free on June 2:

The Railroad Museum of Virginia – Court & Wythe Streets

This museum-on-the-tracks features a five-car train with a 1910-era steam locomotive, two walk-through gallery mail cars, a dining car, antique Norfolk-Southern caboose, and a depot-style platform.

Lightship Portsmouth Museum – London & Water Streets

This ship was built in 1915 and served for 48 years off the coasts of Virginia, Delaware and Massachusetts. Board the vessel and see how the men of the Lightship Service lived during the many months at sea. The ship’s quarters are fitted out realistically and filled with fascinating artifacts, uniforms, photographs, models, and more.

Hill House Museum – 221 North Street 

You will be amazed as you step back in time in this 4-story, 1825 English-basement home. The Hill sisters donated the house, including every piece of furniture, china, crystal, pottery, carpet, and all the window dressings, paintings, ceramics, and household goods that had been collected over a period of 190 years.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church – 637 North Street

Founded in 1792, Emanuel AME Church is the oldest African-American church in the area. The church was built entirely by hand by slaves and free blacks in one year and still has the original stained glass windows and hand-carved benches and pews. Emanuel AME prides itself on being one of the stations on the Underground Railroad.

Jewish Museum and Cultural Center – 607 Effingham Street 

This museum is a rare surviving example of Eastern European Jewish Orthodoxy. It houses an eighteenth-century Torah Scroll rescued from a synagogue in Trebic, Czechoslovakia – a victim of the Holocaust, along with other artifacts and exhibits that reflect the history of the Hampton Roads Jewish community.

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center – 420 High Street 

This museum houses several changing art exhibits including We are the Music Makers: Preserving the Soul of America’s Music and the 2018 Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition. You can also enjoy the music of local favorites, Who We Are Not Trio in the courtyard from 11 am – 1 pm.

Trinity Episcopal Church – 500 Court Street

This church combines both art and history. You can see amazing stained-glass, including 6 beautiful windows added to the church in 1894 by Louis Comfort Tiffany. You can also experience local history. The crew of the C.S.S. Virginia (the ironclad Merrimac) was blessed at the church altar, and the historic churchyard is home to the earthly remains of a number of notable individuals.

Visual Arts Center – 340 High Street

The Visual Arts Center gallery offers over 2,000 square feet of formal exhibition space and features artwork by regional, national and international artists. The current exhibit is Over and Over: Sculpture & Photographs by Doug Calisch.

Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum – 904 Elm Avenue

The museum is a nationally recognized historic site that served Portsmouth’s African-American community from 1945-1963. Today it showcases African-American heritage through photographs, journals, books and other memorabilia.