The Virginia Living Museum’s indoor galleries and two-level habitariums showcase the wide variety of animals and plants living in the Commonwealth. Discovery Centers are brimming with natural history specimens to touch and explore.
Virginia’s Coastal Plain Gallery
The Coastal Plain Gallery explores the world’s richest nursery, the Chesapeake Bay. From the forests beyond Virginia’s coastal marshes to the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and beyond, the Coastal Plain Gallery highlights animals and habitats that characterize the eastern-most region of our Commonwealth.
Exhibits range from the dramatic 30,000-gallon Noland Chesapeake Bay Aquarium, with its large sea creatures, to an underwater view of the intricate and complex life forms that inhabit a wooden piling beneath the ocean waters.
Watch a live view of the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium.
Virginia’s Piedmont and Mountains Gallery
In the Piedmont and Mountains Gallery visitors are “nose-to-nose” with a captivating variety of flying, crawling, swimming and climbing animals. The gallery is anchored by a display of the fall line of the James River in Richmond, filled with smallmouth bass, catfish, wood turtles and other aquatic creatures.
Engaging exhibits such as spotted turtles swimming in an upland bog, yellow perch and tiny chipmunks help visitors piece together the connections between habitat, adaptation and survival.
Virginia’s World of Darkness Gallery
In Virginia’s World of Darkness, visitors come eye-to-eye with tiny sharks, burrowing pine voles, scurrying ghost crabs, playful flying squirrels, eerie jellyfish, and other animals that adapt to nocturnal life.
Screech owls, tree frogs and other nocturnal animals are active during the day in this fascinating area. Meet animals, such as lobsters, rays and moray eels, that make their living in the inky twilight of Virginia’s coastal waters.
Virginia’s Underground Gallery
In the Virginia Underground Gallery, journey back through Virginia’s ancient past by learning about fossil remains preserved beneath our feet and marvel at the beauty of rocks and minerals that formed deep under the Earth. See colorful coral and fish species that thrived in the warm, sun-drenched sea that once covered this area.
Visitors walk through and explore the intriguing geology and critters of a limestone cave, wind their way past the striking features of a cut-away of the fossil-rich layers along the steep banks of the James River and the colorful gems that can be found in the “jewel box” of an underground mine.
Appalachian Cove and Cypress Swamp
In the two-story, glass-covered walk-through habitats visitors immerse themselves in natural environments.
The cool, moist Appalachian Cove features a waterfall, a swift-running mountain stream and lake filled with mountain fish, plus free-flying birds where the sounds, sights and communities of native plants and animals are like taking an instant field trip to the mountains.
The Cypress Swamp is a recreation of vital and endangered wetland habitat. This impressive gallery features an entire community of plants and swamp creatures including massive cypress and tupelo tree trunks, alligator, fish and turtles.
Four different interactive Discovery Centers await your exploration. These hands-on centers are brimming with specimens from the worlds of life science, space science and geology. From a visible bee hive buzzing with activity to our Chesapeake Bay Touch Tank, each Center is sure to engage visitors.