Jamestown ships

Jamestown Settlement: Chronicles America’s 17th-Century Beginnings

Images and editorial supplied by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

At Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th century Virginia, discover the story of America’s first permanent English colony, founded in 1607, and the ensuing convergence of the Powhatan Indian, English and West Central African cultures, vividly recounted through film, indoor gallery exhibits and outdoor living history. Discover the stories of real people and events of early Virginia in exhibition galleries incorporating new historical research and innovative technology. Experience 30,000-square-feet of immersive exhibits with an expanded collection of 500 artifacts, dynamic displays, engaging interactives and 4D theater. Outdoors, visitors can escape to the past in life-size re-creations of a Paspahegh town, the three ships that brought English colonists to Virginia in 1607, and a 1610–1614 fort. Visitors can try on armor, shape a dugout canoe, steer with a ship’s tiller, and other activities that make the past come alive.

Jamestown Settlement

Don’t Just Visit the Past, Get Into It with Immersive Films and Refreshed Gallery Exhibits 
Begin your visit with “1607: A Nation Takes Root,” a docudrama that traces the evolution of the Virginia Company that sponsored the Jamestown colony, examines the relationship between the English colonists and the Powhatan Indians, and chronicles the arrival of the first recorded West Central Africans in 1619. Gallery exhibits explore the three cultures through artifact-filled cases, dioramas and short films. Interactives allow visitors to compare and contrast each of the three cultures, explore the life and legend of Pocahontas, and examine the impact of 1619 historical events that shaped Virginia. Take in a one-of-a-kind 4D multi-sensory, multi-layered projection theater where “Bacon’s Rebellion,” a 1676 armed rebellion of Virginia colonists led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley, unfolds.


Image Courtesy Of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

Visitors Take an Active Role in History with Historical Interpreters in Outdoor Settings
Outdoors, historical interpreters show the Powhatan way of life at a re-created Paspahegh town, based on the archaeological findings at a nearby site along the James River once inhabited by Paspahegh Indians, the Powhatan tribal group closest to Jamestown, and descriptions and illustrations recorded by English colonists in the 17th century. Visitors learn how to grow and prepare food, process animal hides, build dugout canoes, make tools and pottery, and weave plant fibers into cordage. From Paspahegh town, take the path to the James River pier where re-creations of the three ships that transported the Jamestown colonists to Virginia in 1607 – the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery – are docked. Visitors can board and explore to learn about the 144-day voyage from England, and take part in periodic demonstrations of piloting and navigation, knot-tying and sail-handling.Inside the wooden palisade of the re-created fort, reflecting its military and commercial character in 1610–1614, are wattle-and-daub structures with thatched roofs. Cover your ears during daily demonstrations of matchlock musket firing, see a blacksmith at work in a forge, and take part with interpreters to cultivate crops, prepare meals and repair tools the 17th-century way.  The museum, operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, is located about a mile from the original site and 10 minutes from Williamsburg.

A value-priced combination ticket is available with the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Call (757) 253-4838 or visit jyfmuseums.org to learn more.