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19 Moments to Make Summer-Fun History at Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., July 3, 2019 – It’s time to take a summer journey of historic proportions in 2019, a year that marks important milestones in history. Make the most of your summer days soaking in the stories of the people and events of America’s past at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Raise a sail at Jamestown SettlementHistory is at your fingertips when visiting Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, where you’ll discover firsthand that our country’s history isn’t just important – it’s fun too! Take a trip to the past this summer as pivotal moments in American history come alive through immersive films, interactive exhibits and artifact-filled galleries that explore historical accounts from the establishment of the first permanent English settlement to the last great victory of the American Revolution. Special exhibitions enrich these experiences with little-known stories of ordinary people who lived in extraordinary times – “TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia” at Jamestown Settlement and “Forgotten Soldier: African Americans in the Revolutionary War” at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Climb aboard a square-rigged 1607 ship, dig out a dugout canoe, and cover your ears as a matchlock musket fires! Smell the aroma of open-hearth dishes of a Revolution-era farmhouse, wince at the 18th-century medical remedies of a Continental Army surgeon, and make ready for artillery! History comes alive through hands-on experiences and historical expertise of costumed interpreters, who re-create daily life and activities of 17th-century Powhatan Indians and English sailors and colonists and 18th-century Revolutionary citizens and soldiers.

Combing wool at American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Summer is a perfect time for families to visit the year-round history museums, open an hour longer – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from June 15 to August 15. Jamestown Settlement will offer enhanced programming this summer as part of the yearlong observance of key 1619 events in Virginia. Inside new permanent gallery exhibits, historical interpreters will discuss the significance and impact of the first legislative assembly, arrival of the first recorded Africans, and the influx of English women to the colony.

Here are 19 Summer-Fun Moments at the Museums — all included with general admission:

Jamestown Settlement

  1. 1- Three 1607 ship re-creations – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery – are moored at the Jamestown Settlement pier for visitors to board and explore the conditions for 104 men and boys during the 144-day voyage across the ocean. Climb into a sailor’s bunk, raise a ship’s flag and learn about piloting and navigation.
  2. 2- Discover the life of 17th-century Powhatan Indians in a re-created village and grind corn, weave fiber into rope, and learn about flint knapping and how tools were made from natural resources like stone and bone.
  3. 3- In the re-created fort, try on armor with helmets and breastplates, see the blacksmith forge nails and repair tools, cover your ears for a matchlock musket demonstration or join in a military drill.
  4. 4- What’s cooking in the 17th century? Take in sights and smells of food prepared by historical interpreters over open fires of the Powhatan Indian village and open hearths of the 1610-14 fort.
  5. 5- Learn about the arrival of the first documented Africans in 1619 through museum dioramas, artifacts and films, including the “From Africa to Virginia” multimedia theater.
  6. 6- Compare and contrast the language, religion, government, economy, family structure, recreation and art of the Powhatan Indian, English and west central Africans.
  7. 7- Discover the story of Werowocomoco, the 17th-century headquarters of Powhatan, supreme chief of Virginia Indian tribes, which was also home to Pocahontas. Outdoors, learn about Powhatan leadership in a re-created village.
  8. 8- In the “TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia” special exhibition, artifacts from around the world piece together remnants of the past to tell little known stories of Virginia Indian, English and African women in the 17th century.
  9. 9- “Origins of American Democracy” in July at Jamestown Settlement, and “Democracy Weekend” on July 27 and 28, allows visitors to learn about the beginning of representative government in America in 1619. An exhibit featuring pages of the original minutes of the first legislative assembly that convened July 30, 1619 — on loan for the first time in America in 400 years from The National Archives of the United Kingdom — will be available for public viewing at Jamestown Settlement through September 30.

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

  1. 10- Enlist in the Continental Army every day! You’ll learn about the rank and file of soldiers in George Washington’s army.
  2. 11- Join an artillery crew at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day, followed by historical interpreters firing a cannon salute.
  3. 12- On the Revolution-era farm, help process fibers for cloth, including flax and cotton, and lend a hand at weaving on a loom.
  4. 13- What’s cooking in the 18th century? Discover revolutionary methods Continental Army soldiers used to feed troops over an earthen kitchen and what citizens prepared on the Revolution-era farm.
  5. 14- From “Liberty Fever” to the “Liberty Tree,” discover films, exhibits and interactives that get to the root of America’s fight for independence.
  6. 15- Discover Personal Stories of the Revolution, a larger-than-life interactive showcasing 20 different people of the Revolution, illustrated with images of artifacts connected to their lives and incorporating a personality quiz.
  7. 16- Both young and young at heart will enjoy Battle Game, a touch table in the permanent galleries to command troops during the battles of Cowpens, Camden or Kings Mountain in South Carolina.
  8. 17- “The Siege of Yorktown” experiential theater shares the story of the 1781 victory of Yorktown of on a 180-degree surround screen, complete with rumbling seats, wind, smoke and the smells of gunpowder, seawater and coffee.
  9. 18- A July 1776 version of the Declaration of Independence, known as a broadside, is on permanent display for viewing every day of the year.
  10. 19- In the new “Forgotten Soldier” special exhibition, learn about personal stories of African Americans who fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War and their difficult choices in the search for freedom.

At Jamestown Settlement, visitors also will enjoy a range of historical presentations throughout the day, including cooking, sail-setting, blacksmithing, government and law, piloting and navigation, and pottery of the Powhatan Indians. At 3 p.m. daily, the ringing of the church bells in the re-created colonial fort will signal one of six programs with visitor participation: a 17th-century military drill with musketeers, pikemen and targeteers; a demonstration to learn the steps to fire an artillery piece on aboard a square-rigged ship or on land (followed by its firing!); trade between the Powhatan Indian and English cultures; Powhatan Indian period weaponry; lifting-and-lading cargo and supplies from one of the re-created 1607 ships; and comparative weaponry among the Powhatan Indian and English cultures.

Educational exhibits on wheels, or history “a la carte,” will roam Jamestown Settlement’s indoor and outdoor living-history areas, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. Through examination of reproduction artifacts, historical documents, maps and illustrations, visitors can learn about African culture of the 17th century on Monday and Thursday; the James River on Tuesday and Saturday; and women of early Virginia on Thursday and Saturday. The James River program on Tuesday and Saturday mixes history and science at the ships’ pier, where visitors can learn about Jamestown’s location and, through experiments, test the water quality and whether it was drinkable for colonists’ survival.

Tickets & Packages

A Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown value-priced combination ticket is $26.00 for adults and $12.50 for ages 6-12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $17.50 for adults and $8.25 for ages 6-12 and, to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, $15.00 for adults and $7.50 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. A combination ticket – available online only – offers seven days of unlimited admission to both museums at $26.00 for adults and $12.50 for ages 6-12.

Additional multi-attraction ticket and package options are available with historical and modern-day Williamsburg attractions. The two museums also are included with Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and other attractions in a variety of Williamsburg area best-value ticket options featuring unlimited admission for seven consecutive days, free admission for children under 6 and free parking. Tickets are available at jyfmuseums.org/visit/admission-rates/ and can be packaged with lodging at jyfmuseums.org/visit/vacation-packages/.

How to Get Here

Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round, are separated by a 25-minute drive along the Colonial Parkway, a National Scenic Byway. Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free, (757) 253-4838 or visit jyfmuseums.org.