Located in Newport News, Virginia, The Virginia Living Museum aims to connect people to nature through educational and entertaining experiences while also promoting a love for conservation and preservation efforts. Visitors can expect to see a variety of specialty exhibitions, educational programs, and family-friendly events year-round at The Virginia Living Museum.
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The Virginia Living Museum was first known as the Junior Nature Museum and Planetarium and was opened in 1966 and focused mainly on the natural sciences. In the mid-1970s, the facility began to grow and focus on the applied and physical sciences. In the early 80’s, the museum began to transition from a more traditional museum to a living museum which incorporated live animals and ecosystems alongside the exhibitions and educational programs.
There were various expansions throughout the 90’s and early-2000’s including the addition of the Coastal Plan Aviary and a 62,000 square foot brand new museum main building.
Indoor Galleries: The Virginia Living Museum features a variety of two-story indoor galleries which showcase the various ecosystems in Virginian Commonwealth. The galleries features include the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont and Mountains, the World of Darkness, the underground gallery, the Cove and Cypress Swamp, and the various Discovery Centers. Each offers live animals and plants as well as various hands-on activities for visitors of all ages.
Boardwalk Trail: This boardwalk travels throughout the Living Museum into various facets of wildlife and ecosystems. It passes through the Coastal Plan Aviary where more than 5,500 square feet of pristine ecosystem is filled with dozens of bird species. The various species that can be seen depend on the time of year. The outdoor boardwalk surrounds the Deer Park Lake where visitors can see all kinds of local fish, birds, turtles, and frogs. There have even been sightings of deer, eagles, foxes, and bobcats in this area!
Dinosaur Discovery Trail: In honor of the 50th anniversary of the museum, a permanent outdoor exhibition has been opened celebrating the life of creatures who roamed the Earth for 150 million years – the dinosaurs! Visitors can explore the trail and see all kinds of life-size replicas of various dinosaurs from the era. There are also hands-on activities including digging for fossils.
Living Green Gardens: The Goodson House was opened in 2009 and is an environmental education center to show homeowners, contractors, and architects the latest technologies on eco-friendly homes. Visitors can explore the 600 square foot home and learn all about eco-friendly home maintenance and more!
Just for Kids Zone: The museum features many areas with hands-on, interactive play capabilities for children. The museum believes that they best way to learn is through these methods and they want to properly foster the world’s future vets, paleontologists, horticulturists, and animal keepers.
The Art and Science of Arachnids: This exhibition is currently on display until April 10, 2018 and it features more than just live arachnids. This exhibition dives into the history, culture, science, and artwork revolving around arachnids and the ever-changing perception of these creatures. There will be a live arachnid show and some visitors will even get the chance to hold some of their favorite arachnids. There will be a variety of interactive exhibitions and activities as well. This exhibition is for visitors of all ages.
There are wide variety of educational programs hosted year-round at the Virginia Living Museum including: Self-guided visits, field trips, school safaris, planetarium experiences, summer camps, discovery trips, spring break camps, scout programs, and various programs for adults, families, children, public schoolers, and even homeschoolers. Be sure to check out the website for more information. There are also a wide variety of conservation efforts and programs that visitors and community members are invited to participate in.
The Virginia Living Museum, 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd. Newport News, VA 23601, Phone: 757-595-1900