Kinsale Museum

Kinsale Museum

Kinsale Museum, in the heart of Kinsale, Virginia, features exhibits addressing the rich history of the oldest customs port on the south side of the Potomac.

What sets the Kinsale Museum apart from the rest is the extensive collection of photographs, scrapbooks, and other mementoes that seem to bring the past alive.

Three marinas have welcomed visitors from all over the world for over a century. Sailing vessels and steamboats which once ferried goods from as far off as Baltimore, Washington, and Norfolk have now been replaced by huge barges that carry away soybeans, wheat, corn and barley from the Perdue Granary at the foot of Steamboat Hill.

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Image Credit: Kinsale Museum


Open Fridays and Saturdays:

  • 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Special tours are available by appointment only. 

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


No fee, but donations are requested to help defer operational costs.

Memberships to the museum are available:

  • $22/year = individual
  • $33/year = family


Guided Tours are available.

  • Special events:
  • Annual strawberry festival (First Saturday of May)
  • Annual July 4th celebration including food, music and fireworks
  • Annual Easter Egg hunt the Saturday of Easter weekend at 2pm 
  • Annual Chirstmas celebration takes place the first Saturday of December from Noon until 5, featuring Santa, cookies, music, kids crafts, and a parade
  • Annual summer dance in held in August
  • Annual Kinsale Day is the 3rd Saturday in September

For more detailed information please contact museum.


Being the oldest customs port on the south side of the Potomac, taxes were collected here in colonial times. From the 1850s to 1933, steamboats visited every day to ferry freight and passengers from this deepwater port that served a 125 square mile area.

Kinsale is and was a major export town to this part of Virginia, first with steamboats and now with barges.

War also came to Kinsale by water. The town was attacked in both the War of 1812 and the Civil War. A reanactment is mande each year of these invasions.

History and community have always been key elements of life in the historic riverfront port of Kinsale, where in 1977, three young Kinsale natives -- architect Harry Lee Arnest and historians Frank Bailey Jr., and Walter B. Norris Jr. -- spearheaded the creation of the Kinsale Foundation.

They were joined by other area businessmen and historians like Earl Carter Moss of Moss Chevrolet, Edna Sanford Douglas, the Bevanses of Bevans Oyster Co. and the Cardens of Potomac Supply in forming Kinsale Foundation.  They envisioned a group that would welcome newcomers to the historic village and unite in protecting Kinsale’s environment -- both cultural and physical. In the ensuing years, the foundation has bought property for public use, as well as collecting and safe-guarding documentation on local history.  The Foundation co-hosts holiday gatherings with Cople District Volunteer Fire Department.

The Museum building (which at various times housed a tavern, a butcher shop, and many other businesses) was given to the Foundation by Arnest's widow in 1989.  After extensive restoration, Kinsale Museum opened to the public in 1993.  The two work hand in hand to promote preservation of Kinsale, which became a historic district in 2005.  The Foundation has since bought the old Ice Cream Parlor and will be creating gallery space there.


Last updated: December 15, 2022
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