Kinsale Foundation/Kinsale Museum

Where history joins hands with community.

Kinsale’s waters have fed the world and continue to do so: from bivalves to crustaceans, rockfish to blues, perch, flounder, and sugartoads to herring. Have you ever ordered an oyster item off the menu at your favorite restaurant? It may well have been shucked right here on the Yeocomico River. At the Kinsale Museum you will see many boat models including Oyster Buyboats, Steamboats, Skipjacks, Gunning Skiffs, Bugeyes, Schooners, and more from the collection of Turner Waughtel, a waterman’s son.


Lynn Norris, Museum Director


804-472-2013; 804-472-3001


449 Kinsale Road
Kinsale, VA 22488


Fridays & Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm

Local artists and crafters are featured in our gift shop and at our special events including Independence Day celebrations and fireworks on the closest Sat. to July 4, Summer Dance Excitement, Kinsale Day (always the 3rd Sat. in September) and Christmas in Kinsale (always the 1st Sat. in December, Noon to 4 pm). We are a resource for linking visitors with their own stories and with new friends who have similar interests.

About The Foundation-FAQ History of The Kinsale Foundation and its Museum.

When was the Museum founded/opened? What about the building the Museum is housed in?

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.

How would you describe the feel of the Museum?

A welcoming place where stories are brought to life.

How is it funded?

Dues and donations from members and area business support the Museum and community events.

Is there a gift shop?

Yes indeed. There are many items of Nautical genre, including handmade soaps, beautiful pillows, vases, art cards, and much more including jewelry, books, prints, framed art, keepsakes, and souvenirs.

Are there any special programs and/or partners that the Museum hosts or works with annually?

Crafters, artists and other exhibitors are invited to setup in the Park starting at 5 p.m. on the closest Saturday to July 4, prior to the commencement of community fireworks on the Kinsale Bridge at 9:15 p.m.; as well as the 3rd Saturday of every September during Kinsale Day, and at Noon on the 1st Saturday in December during Christmas in Kinsale.

Annual events include an Easter Egg Hunt and the annual Summer Dance and Silent Auction.

What significant artifacts and/or pieces are on exhibit that makes Kinsale Museum stand apart from others?

An extensive collection of photographs, scrapbooks, and other mementoes bring the past alive in the present. The water is ever present in vivid artworks by Phil Arnest and John Barber, Melvin Foxwell’s Northumberland and the Estelle Leonard, several skipjack models, other boat models on loan from Turner Waughtel and the Sandy family, photos of steamboats, and an exhibit about the Floating Theatre which Edna Ferber detailed in her book “Showboat”.

Kinsale is a port. What items came to shore there?

Kinsale is the oldest customs port on the south side of the Potomac. Taxes were collected here in colonial times and from the 1850’s to 1933 steamboats visited every day to ferry freight and passengers from this deepwater port that served a 125-sq. mile area. Farming, forestry and fishing all sent away their harvest chiefly by boat until the bridges were built in the 30’s and Perdue Granary still gathers the harvest of myriad area fields of beans and small grains to ship away by barge.

War also came by water. The town was attacked from the river both during the War of 1812 and the Civil War. We enlist the aid of visitors to re-enact this, and the tale is available in Harvey Bailey and Norris Parks’ Reminiscences.

Why is the Kinsale Museum important to Westmoreland County?

Westmoreland County is the birthplace of our great Nation. The Museum is here to showcase the sense of pride in our community, both past and present, which makes Kinsale a truly special and welcoming point of interest.

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