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.

Bubble ExhibitBUBBLES: 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.

FROM FARM TO FOODMART: In the Market area, visitors will recognize their local grocery store environment, full of foods that they regularly see in their store. Children will have the opportunity to work in a simulated grocery store, scanning items and checking out groceries. Visitors will see where much of their food comes from in a variety of hands-on activities.

TOT YARD: Designed especially for toddlers up to three will have the opportunity to move, play, and explore. Upon passing through a picket fence gate, children may let their curiosities guide them through this safe and interactive nature-themed environment.

TRAIN EXHIBIT & LANCASTER ANTIQUE TRAIN AND TOY COLLECTIONDesigned to look like a train depot platform. Railway tracks guide visitors from the platform area toward the main Lancaster exhibit and collection. Tots will enjoy the Thomas and Friends play area.

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.

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.

Nothing quite amazes or inspires a child like that first trip to a planetarium.
Enjoy it with them in our modern, cutting edge facility.
Click here for current Planetarium show information.

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

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.

PETS AND VETS: Pets and Vets is a welcoming pet clinic where children are invited to explore pet care, animal communication, and what pets need to live healthy lives.

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