First Floor

Explore, Imagine, And Discover In Our Hands-On Playscapes

“It’s the only museum where you can come and touch things. [At other museums] you have to walk around, keep your hands in your pockets. Here we say go up, touch it, play with it, push it, figure out what makes it work.”

A WORKING PORT: The busy ports of Norfolk and Portsmouth come alive in this bustling waterfront area. Visitors may explore the port environment through role play and hands-on activities. Visitors are introduced to the functions of a port, how tugboats operate, and what goods are imported and exported.

BUBBLES: One of our most popular exhibits. Children create bubbles of varying shapes and sizes – even ones bigger than they are!

SOUNDS AROUND: Enter a soon-to-be-open music store. Learn about the four families of musical instruments. Enjoy playing instruments made from unusual and found materials such as trash cans lids, hubcaps, wrenches and more.

THE BANK: Explore the essential functions of a bank such as depositing and withdrawing money and storing valuable possessions. It will also introduce visitors to concepts such as earning and saving, counterfeiting and international currency.

TOT LOT: Children under three have a safe and interactive, nature themed space all to themselves. They can sit on a turtle, crawl through a log, play with puppets in the base of a tree and have fun in the bird’s nest complete with huge eggs. A family restroom and nursing alcove are in this enclosed area.

OUR NATIONS FLAG: Introduces children and their families to the basic history, design, and etiquette of the flag of the United States of America. Sponsored by the Portsmouth Flag Associates, the goal of the display is to ensure that children and their families have a basic understanding of this great national symbol, what it stands for, and how to honor it.]

THE BEAZLEY PLANETARIUM: A 63- seat full dome digital theater where science, astronomy and history come alive. The planetarium is on the move this spring upgrading the video to high definition 4K and adding Dolby 7.1 sound to make your visit that much more exciting!

WEGMAN’S: This exhibit, sponsored by Wegman’s, is chock full of groceries, fruits, and vegetables for kids to stock the shelves, as well as scan and check-out at the registers. Visitors will be able to collect eggs and milk a 3-D model of a cow.

BODYWORKS: Enter a wellness center just for kids where they will have fun while learning about sports, work safety, hygiene and fitness.

CHANGING EXHIBITS: Three times a year, the museum features traveling exhibits. New exhibits open in February, June, and November

Safety ZoneREACH LIBRARY: In this quiet REACH (Reading Enriches All Children) reading area, children may choose to read a book, take a book home with them, or drop a book into a donation box.

SAFETY ZONE: Learn all about home safety and hazard prevention while engaging with fun, hands-on activities. Play in a real fire truck cab. Play a home fire safety detective game and put out the fire.

Happy PawsHAPPY PAWS: Happy Paws encourages families to think of adopting a rescue animal. Kids will pretend play with stuffed dogs, cats and birds feeding, grooming and giving them a check-up. The exhibit also has a decorative tree for the birds and cats and a dog house.

LANCASTER ANTIQUE TRAIN & TOY COLLECTION: As you enter the exhibit, train enthusiasts will be overwhelmed by the vast collection of antique toys and trains. Visitors will follow train tracks to enter the main train exhibit which consists of a large-scale diorama with operating trains traveling through Hampton Roads to Roanoke.

TODDLER TRACKS: A separate exhibit, designed for toddlers incorporating a “kid-sized train”, and the popular Thomas the Tank Engine toys. Toddlers will enjoy building layouts for the trains.

MUSEUM GIFT SHOP: Looking for a unique toy or gift? Our Museum Gift Shop has all kinds of educational gift to spur the imagination.