Plenty of utensils and wares decorated tables in 18th-century America, but only a few became a symbol of protest during the Revolution, one of them was the teapot. It's these subtle traces of cultural change that take center stage in the permanent and temporary exhibits at DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Here, developments in civilian and military infantry, such as ignition systems and muzzle-loading firearms, signal the progress of 18th-century weaponry, while 1690s-1820s furniture from New England through the Mid-Atlantic highlight developing cultural and regional trends.
Though a bulk of the museum's collection—including one of the biggest assortments of British ceramics outside England—was mainly used in the home, some objects were designed for outside the domestic sphere. An original fire engine built in the mid-18th century stands unscathed by flames, and a collection of medals made for George Washington honors the time he beat up that cherry tree. Scholars delve deeper into these and other artifacts during lectures held in Hennage Auditorium.
An extensively strange museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not! boasts more than 350 exhibits showcasing odd, rare, and mind-undoing world records, people, and animals. At the in-house 4-D theater, Ripley's hosts thrilling flicks with fantastical on-screen action—action that is complemented by the fourth dimension of interaction, in-audience effects. To cap off the strange-sperience, visitors take a single shot at the impossible laser race, a laser-laden challenge that requires cat-like balance and a cat's-cradle-like ability to weave through light beams. Between perusing the exhibits, taking in the audio-visual amalgamation of the theater, and overcoming futuristic obstacles, this adventurous outing to Ripley's is primed to shock, surprise, and brain-tickle even the most seasoned of UFO investigators or pilots.
Peninsula Fine Arts Center isn't a passive art museum where guests stare silently at paintings and statues. Instead, the center uses rotating exhibitions of paintings, photographs, and pottery to inspire visitors to create their own artwork. To that end, the exhibiting artists often teach in the center's Studio Art School. Classes range from single-day workshops to 10-week sessions, during which instructors might teach small groups to paint with watercolors or change out a flat pottery wheel. The instructors keep their schedule balanced, leading classes that suit all ages and skill levels. Other classes, such as Little Helping Hands Adventure in Clay, let kids and adults create artwork together.
Kids don't need to sign up for classes to try out their art skills, however. In the Hands On for Kids interactive gallery, young patrons draw on a chalkboard wall, build with blocks, and complete various projects inspired by the exhibitions.
The Mariners' Museum puts nautical adventure on display with a treasure chest of oceanic artifacts. With either deal, you'll get unlimited admission to the museum. Tickle your grey matter with its outstanding exhibition: artifacts from the USS Monitor, an ironclad ship that battled bravely and sunk during the Civil War’s Battle of Hampton Roads. Or, see exquisite sea-inspired art and thousands of meticulously crafted ship models, which were occasionally used in the Keebler Elves' royal navy. Visitors can also stroll through The Mariners’ Museum Park, which is one of the largest privately-owned and -maintained public parks in the country. Members also receive the following benefits:
Walking across the dock to Nauticus, visitors' eyes are inevitably drawn to the sleeping giant nestled up alongside it: the 850-foot battleship Wisconsin. One of the largest battleships ever built by the United States Navy, its massive, 16-inch guns lent their firepower to WWII, Korea, and Operation Desert Storm. The hulking warship is now retired, its gigantic mass a testament to both its immense power and the strength of the open ocean whose waves it once plied.
This dichotomy between peaceful repose and thundering wrath is fully embraced by Nauticus, immersing visitors in exhibits that explore the ocean and man’s use of it at their most peaceful and destructive. On the Wisconsin, visitors can tour crew messes and officer lounges, getting a taste of naval life. Inside the center, permanent exhibits include Our Mighty Seaport, which delves into Norfolk's busy maritime commerce, with real-time updates on ships sailing past and an observation deck overlooking the port. Turning to nature, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Science on a Sphere exhibit simulates extreme weather conditions on a 6-foot video sphere. In Horseshoe Crab Cove, visitors can pet starfish, crabs, and sea urchins without having to take turns with nearby seagulls.
Following Memorial Day weekend, the Nauticus will host new features to their exhibits such as access to new interior areas of the battleship [Wisconsin], including the chapel, post office, a section of enlisted berthing, and dental office, a WWII era song and dance revue, and an interactive top secret mission on board the ship.