Jamestown Settlement tells the story of 17th-century Virginia, from the arrival of English colonists in Jamestown in 1607 to the cultural encounters and events that planted the seeds of a new nation. The world of Jamestown, America’s first permanent English colony, comes to life through film, gallery exhibits and outdoor living history.
A recent visit to Jamestown Settlement transported us straight to 17th century Virginia. While our family has known about this unique living history experience for years, this was our first time at Jamestown as a family of four.
Beginning at the Visitor’s Center, exploring the outdoor exhibits, and finishing at the gallery; we enjoyed every moment learning about the events and encounters that helped to create our nation.
The day of our visit was one of the hottest of the summer, so we were grateful for the indoor offerings. We began our day at the Visitor’s Center, and headed straight for the Rotunda, to the new exhibit: FOCUSED: A Century of Virginia Indian Resilience. This exhibit is incredible! In fact, if you begin by watching the film, you can actually hear from the descendants of Virginia Indians who wore and even made many of the artifacts in the exhibit. My fashionista daughter was enthralled by the detail and beauty of the regalia. Learning about the rituals, daily life and heritage of Virginia Indians was the perfect introduction.
Next, we headed for the outdoor living history exhibits. These exhibits were just as fascinating as I remembered from my (many) years ago elementary school field trip! We first came to the recreated Paspahegh town.
Our entire family was enamored with the costumed interpreters, who encouraged questions from children and answered each with clear, detailed explanations. We learned about the work, use of natural resources, traditions and much more through hands on exhibits.
My children loved going into each yehakin, or house, and seeing where they might sleep, what products the Powhatan Indians had made and how this compares to how we live in our own home. This portion of Jamestown Settlement was a favorite as the children drew on personal experiences to make poignant comparisons. We were all enthralled by the talent and dedication the Powhatans had to making durable products.
Our next stop was aboard the Susan Constant ship. Visitors are permitted to climb aboard and look around the ship while costumed interpreters teach about the 1607 voyage and ship pastimes.
The final outdoor living exhibit was James Fort, where there is a recreation of a church, storehouse, governor’s house and more, all from 1610-1614. A highlight here was a musket firing demonstration. (Don’t forget to cover your ears!)
We finished our Jamestown experience back in the galleries, thankful for air conditioning! There are theaters in the galleries, including a 4D projection theater where “Bacon’s Rebellion” is played every 20 minutes. With more than 500 objects in the exhibits from Virginia, Europe and Africa, we compared the three cultures, taking in such artifacts as toys, tools and portraits. After over 2 hours exploring Jamestown, we concluded our day.
As we wrapped up our day of living history, we continued our conversations on the way home. Jamestown Settlement gave every member of our family a way to connect, learn and grow. And when we pulled up to our house and I announced, we are home! My daughter said, “yes, we’ve arrived at our yehakin!” Thankful to Jamestown for giving us this unforgettable learning experience!
Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, 2110 Jamestown Rd., Williamsburg, VA 23187
Open daily 9am-5pm
tel: (757) 253-4838 – website: http://jyfmuseums.org/
— By Lindsay Garrison
Richmond on the Cheap contributor Lindsay Garrison is a Richmond, Virginia based mom to two young children. A graduate from Chesterfield Schools and Randolph-Macon College, Lindsay is proud to call Richmond home. In the years prior to planning activities and outings with her own children, she was a French teacher. During her tenure she earned accolades for her creative teaching style and ability to connect with her students. Lindsay now applies the skills she learned when she was planning student trips to France, to her own family adventures. She can’t wait to take her own children to France one day! Follow the Garrison’s family adventures on Instagram: @thegarrisonsrva
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