It is a gathering place, graced by weathered porch rockers that welcome you into an art gallery and gift shop rivaling New York’s finest.

It is a creative educator, grounding small-town children in history and the arts while big-city kids savor a taste of country life.

It is a museum that shelters yesterday’s culture of the islanders and watermen, and it is a farm that follows today’s best practices to cultivate the land.

Yet it is, most of all, a storyteller, safeguarding the wisdom of our past for the sake of the Eastern Shore’s future.


The mission of the Barrier Islands Center (BIC) is to preserve and perpetuate the unique culture and history of Virginia’s Barrier Islands through education and the collection and interpretation of artifacts.

The islands were once home to vibrant fishing and farming communities, with rich wildlife that attracted people from up and down the East Coast to elegant hotels and exclusive gentlemen's hunt clubs. A series of major hurricanes in the 1930s forced those people to relocate to the mainland, but many of the old stories and traditions still echo in life on the Eastern Shore today. 

oyster roast festival

Founded in 1996 and opened to visitors in 2002, the BIC is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to highlighting Virginia's unique coastal history through free admission to exhibits with over 7,500 artifacts artfully displayed to tell the stories of the men and women who lived, worked and played on the barrier islands.


Today, the BIC is a thriving hub of activity and serves as a:

  • MUSEUM - safeguarding and interpreting the rich culture and history of the people of the Barrier Islands
  • EDUCATION and ENRICHMENT CENTER - providing opportunities for all ages to learn, grow and gain a sense of place through the arts, culture, science and history
  • GATHERING PLACE - welcoming local families, organizations, businesses and guests to visit, chat, reminisce, plan and dream in a beautiful and serene setting 
“If you don’t know where you came from, you’ll never know where you’re going.”
— Sam Taylor, Former Board President