about the museum


Admission is free. Donations are always welcome and very gratefully appreciated.

Family- and Dog-Friendly

BIC is family-friendly place. Children are encouraged to visit, explore, build on our lego tables, dig in our "fossil pit" or play croquet on the lawn. Picnic tables and benches are located on the Quarter Kitchen patio, and visitors are welcome to bring your snacks or lunch. (Machipongo Trading Company is located directly across Route 13 in case you’d like to pick up a coffee, smoothie, salad or sandwich!)

Dogs (on leash) are also welcome to explore the museum grounds and the gallery spaces.


Visitors in wheelchairs or with otherwise restricted mobility are welcome to the Barrier Islands Center. Both the Museum Building and the Education Building have ramps available for wheelchair or walker access. Many of the museum exhibits are on the 2nd floor, which does not offer wheelchair access at this time. Visitors who are unable to ascend the stairs may view an Upstairs Gallery Tour video, one or more of the BIC's documentary films, sit and chat with us downstairs or browse the galleries through our iPad Virtual Tour


On the second floor of the Barrier Islands Center Museum, the rooms are artfully arranged to create an immersive and interactive experience that reveals how different life was just 100 years ago. The sepia photographs and artifacts are used to tell the stories of these men, women and children (as well as the animals) who lived, worked and played on the Barrier Islands

  • the rugged "ironmen" of the life saving stations who managed a dramatic rescue of a stranded Spanish vessel during stormy weather

  • the orphan girl who went to work for the Hog Island Lighthouse Keeper's wife

  • the couple who had to stand on their furniture to survive the great August storm of 1933

  • the Italian harpist who played for guests at the Cobb Island Hotel

  • the sisters who argued about who would sit next to President Grover Cleveland on his visit to Hog Island

Miriam Riggs is the talented exhibit designer who transports visitors to these historical spaces by creating a rich visual tableau in each gallery. Exacting in her research, Miriam is also able to bring in playful elements that delight both children and adults. 

Mini theaters in the galleries display several of BIC’s documentaries.

Visitors are also welcome to visit the museum’s 3rd floor for Fun in the Attic! This space includes the Twisted Chimney and many hands-on exhibits that are particularly appealing to children. Please note that the attic is not heated or air-conditioned, so is not recommended during extreme heat or cold weather.