The City of Virginia Beach History Museums include the Thoroughgood House, the Francis Land House, the Lynnhaven House, and the Union Kempsville Museum. They are part of the City's Department of Aquarium and History Museums, which also operates the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.
As part of the municipal government of the City of Virginia Beach, the Department of Aquarium and History Museums provides educational services to citizens and visitors; works to conserve the natural environment and preserve our historic treasures; and engages the community in these processes.
Virginia Beach's rich heritage is represented in its variety of history museums. Some of the oldest surviving brick houses in America are in Virginia, and two of those - the Thoroughgood House and the Lynnhaven House--are located in Virginia Beach. The Francis Land House and Ferry Plantation House are larger, later examples of plantation living in old Princess Anne County.
The development of the oceanfront resort section of Virginia Beach began in the late 19th century. The deWitt Cottage is the oldest surviving beach cottage. Now the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, it features the sport hunting industry that attracted as many visitors as the beaches did in the early 20th century. The museum at the Old Coast Guard Station represents the brave men and women who worked to keep the coast as safe as possible both for beachgoers and for ships plying the treacherous waters of the mid-Atlantic.
Slavery and the efforts of people of African descent to overcome prejudice and adversity are part of the stories of many of these museums. The best account of local African-American history can be found in the Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum. The museum tells the story of the school the African-American community built for black children when proper education was denied to them during segregation.
Virginia Beach's history is surprisingly broad and the public museums provide memorable experiences for those wishing to discover the true hidden treasures of the Atlantic coast.