Isle of Wight County Museum

Isle of Wight County Museum

103 Main Street, Smithfield, Va.     757-356-1223 10 am-4 pm Mon-Sat & Noon-4 pm Sunday

The Isle of Wight County Museum was founded in 1976 by a group of volunteers dedicated to the preservation of county history. Interpreting local history, the museum’s exhibits include prehistoric fossils, a turn-of-the-century country store, displays regarding the ham industry and perhaps the museum’s most notable artifact: the world’s oldest, edible cured ham!

The World’s Oldest Ham!
P.D. Gwaltney Jr.’s famous pet ham currently resides at the Isle of Wight County Museum. In 1902, a cured ham was overlooked, and for 20 years, the ham hung from a rafter in one of his packing houses. By 1924, the pet ham was kept in an iron safe which was opened daily for guests to view. Advertised as the world’s oldest Smithfield ham, Gwaltney fashioned a brass collar for the ham and took it to shows and expos to exhibit the preservative powers of his smoking method. The ham was featured in Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” in 1929, 1932 and 2003.

Check out our 24/7 Ham Cam here.

2016 Events

Jan. 16. A Taste for War. 11 a.m. Civil War food came in many shapes and sizes. After marching or drilling all day, soldiers were exhausted and still had to prepare their rations to fortify themselves for the coming days. Join us for this informative lecture and sample a few (tasty?) original recipes.

Jan. 16. Local Tour of Mackie’s Mill. 1:30 p.m. On the 235th anniversary of the Mackie’s Mill engagement, the 1781 skirmish between local militia and Benedict Arnold’s forces, visit the site of the clash. Tour begins at the Isle of Wight County Museum. Guests will follow in their own vehicles to the nearby sites. Carpooling encouraged. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Jan. 21. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Owls.

Feb. 18. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Snowflake mittens.

March 5. Defining the Cold War. 2 p.m. This day marks the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech which defined the parameters of the Cold War.  A day of Cold War history with lectures, artifacts, military vehicles and more.

March 13. Monster Matinee. 1 p.m. Mike Holtzclaw, the Daily Press’ very own Roger Ebert, will regale us with clips and trivia about classic Cold War-era monster movies…Attack of the Crab Monsters, Deadly Mantis, It! and Plan 9 from Outer Space….this will be an afternoon of popcorn, levity and adventure as we give a thumbs up or thumbs down to important and scary moments in film history.

March 17. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Let’s celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

April 2. Battle of Smithfield Walking Tour. 2 p.m. Meet a Union soldier at the museum for a lecture and a walk down Church Street as he details his experiences in this battle.

April 14. Home School Day. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Smithfield and Isle of Wight County’s historic sites welcome homeschoolers of all ages with a selection of fun and engaging activities that highlight the history of Virginia and the area.

April 21. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Birds.

May 7. Battle of Smithfield Walking Tour. 2 p.m. Meet a Union soldier at the museum for a lecture and a walk down Church Street as he details his experiences in this battle.

May 15. Put the Genie Back in the Bottle. 1 p.m. Antique 19th and early 20th century bottles have long attracted collectors due to their beautiful shapes and colors, historical interest and availability to anyone willing to do some sleuthing and some digging. Many collectors focus on specific brands or regions or bottles from specific venues such as a pharmacy or dairy. Bottle collector Joseph Reish will present a history of bottles and share some rare examples.

May 19. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Ladybugs.

June 4. Battle of Smithfield Walking Tour. 2 p.m. Meet a Union soldier at the museum for a lecture and a walk down Church Street as he details his experiences in this battle.

June 5. Archaeology at Windsor Castle. 1 p.m. Archaeology is a science which draws from many disciplines. Since 2010, the Wheatland Foundation in Williamsburg, Va., has worked with the town of Smithfield at Windsor Castle to conduct field investigations and preliminary laboratory processing and analyses. Learn from Archaeologist Alain Outlaw what items have been found and what these items tell us about the history of Windsor Castle.

June 11. Walking Tour Along Church Street. 10:30 a.m. Join us as we stroll down Church Street to explore the history of this fascinating area.

July 2. Battle of Smithfield Walking Tour. 2 p.m. Meet a Union soldier at the museum for a lecture and a walk down Church Street as he details his experiences in this battle.

July 9. Walking Tour Along Church Street. 10:30 a.m. Join us as we stroll down Church Street to explore the history of this fascinating area.

July 9. The Pet Ham’s 114th Birthday. Noon-2 p.m. The world’s oldest ham turns 114! 114 is an abundant number, a sphenic number and a Harshad number. It is also the atomic number of flerovium and the police non-emergency number in Denmark. More importantly, 114 is a good excuse for cake. Join us in this annual tribute to the birthday boy, and help us launch our annual Pan Ham contest.

July 17. The Militia Are Coming in from All Quarters: The Revolution in Virginia’s Lower Counties. 1 p.m. Local living historian Rob Friar brings to light the rich, yet relatively unknown, Revolutionary War history of Virginia’s towns and counties and how they played an important role in the war leading up to the eventual surrender of British forces at Yorktown, Virginia.

Aug. 2. National Coloring Book Day. Coloring and coloring books have always been popular with children, but over the past few years, adult coloring has become a huge trend because it is a fun way to relieve stress. Stop by the museum between July 26 and August 2 to add your artwork to our collection.

Aug. 6. Battle of Smithfield Walking Tour. 2 p.m. Meet a Union soldier at the museum for a lecture and a walk down Church Street as he details his experiences in this battle.

Aug. 13. Walking Tour Along Church Street. 10:30 a.m. Join us as we stroll down Church Street to explore the history of this fascinating area.

Sept. 3. Battle of Smithfield Walking Tour. 2 p.m. Meet a Union soldier at the museum for a lecture and a walk down Church Street as he details his experiences in this battle.

Sept. 9. Yoga in the Museum. 7-8 p.m. September is National Yoga Month. Join us in the museum’s main gallery for a session guaranteed to de-stress and relax. Class hosted by RYT Jennifer England.

Sept. 15. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Milk Comes from Cows.

Oct. 1. Battle of Smithfield Walking Tour. 2 p.m. Meet a Union soldier at the museum for a lecture and a walk down Church Street as he details his experiences in this battle.

Oct. 8. Reflecting on Vietnam. 11 a.m. As the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, the museum will host speaker Jim Blesse who will give a brief synopsis of the war and its origins, detail its legacy, discuss some of the misconceptions concerning service in Vietnam and share his experiences in combat in the Mekong Delta.

Oct. 20. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Why Geese Fly South in Winter.

Nov. 5. Battle of Smithfield Walking Tour. 2 p.m. Meet a Union soldier at the museum for a lecture and a walk down Church Street as he details his experiences in this battle.

Nov. 6. Lawne’s Creek Potter. 1 p.m. For the most part, Virginia potters in the 17th century produced lead-glazed earthenwares from the hematite-rich Tidewater clays. The Lawne’s Creek potter was identified by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources based on archaeological finds in Isle of Wight County. Little is known about this potting enterprise except that work produced here has been found on the eastern shore of Virginia as well as other sites. Archaeologist Alain Outlaw of the Wheatland Foundation in Williamsburg, Va., will present his findings on what is known about this potter through his recent archaeological work in Lawne’s Creek.

Nov. 17. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Thanksgiving.

Nov. 18. 40th Anniversary of the Isle of Wight County Museum. 7 p.m. November 21 marks the 40th anniversary of the museum. Join us for a reception and unveiling of our anniversary exhibit: Isle of Wight County History in 40 Objects. The history of Isle of Wight County mirrors the history of the growth and development of the United States. Museum staff tell this history through artifacts which give an intimate glimpse into the development of our area. Each object has a story to tell, and together they reveal the larger history of this community’s development and its place in Hampton Roads and the world.

Nov. 20. A Vital Connection: The James River Bridge. 2 p.m. Opened November 17, 1928, the James River Bridge has linked Warwick-Newport News to Isle of Wight County for 88 years. This look-back examines life before the bridge, when colonial ferries and steamers served this purpose. The historical journey continues with dedication of the original crossing and construction of the present one.

Nov. 22. Happy Birthday, Benjamin Huger! 12:30 p.m. Join us for this lecture about the life of Benjamin Huger, the career U.S. Army ordnance officer who fought with distinction during the Mexican-American War and served as a Confederate general during the Civil War. Isle of Wight County’s Fort Huger is named for him.

Dec. 9. An Evening with St. Nick. 5-9 p.m. Visit the jolly ol’ elf and enjoy a reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – plus holiday refreshments, crafts and activities. Perfect for families! Pre-registration for visits with St. Nick are suggested.

Dec. 11. Scott’s Factory/Logan’s Mill Tour. 1:30 p.m. During the 1864 Battle of Smithfield, Logan’s Mill was the first Union land objective. Review the Battle of Smithfield and follow us on this field trip. Tour begins at the Isle of Wight County Museum. Guests will follow in their own vehicles to the nearby sites. Carpooling encouraged. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Dec. 15. Tell Me a Story. 10 a.m. This program, geared for children ages 3 to 5, introduces youngsters to the symbols of Isle of Wight and features books, songs and games. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Theme: Gingerbread.

NOTE: All events are subject to cancellation as well as date, time and admission changes.

 

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