Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center

400 High Street • (757) 393-8543


Housed in the 1846 Courthouse, the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center is home to rotating visual art and cultural exhibits, lectures, workshops, and performances.

Current Exhibits:

Sailing to Freedom

Through April 16

Often overlooked by historians is the large number of enslaved people who used coastal routes along the Atlantic seaboard to make their way to freedom either by merchant or passenger ships or small watercraft. Sailing to Freedom highlights these little-known stories of the Underground Railroad, many of which began here in Hampton Roads. This exhibit is on loan from the New Bedford Whaling Museum (NBWM). Significant funding for the original exhibition at the NBWM was provided by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and the New Bedford Historical Society. Michael Dyer, NBWM curator, and Dr. Timothy Walker, University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth, were co-curators for this exhibition based upon a book by the same title edited by Dr. Walker.

I Am A Man

April 7 – May 27

The 1960-1970 decade unleashed hope for the future and profound change as the civil rights movement sought to desegregate public spaces and secure the right to vote for African Americans. Inspired by the voice of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., thousands of courageous people risked their lives to end Jim Crow segregation. Photographs by amateurs, local photojournalists, and internationally known photographers captured the often-dangerous confrontations. The exhibit title adopts the slogan of the sanitation workers’ strike that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was to lead the day after he was assassinated on April 4th, 1968.

These images bear witness to the violence and brutality that protesters faced with the quiet determination of elders and the angry commitment of the young. Even though the photographs were taken fifty years ago, they remain relevant today and remind us of the brave sacrifices that were made to further civil rights for African Americans.

This exhibit is a Program of Exhibits USA, a national division of the Mid-America Arts Alliance and The National Endowment for the Arts. The museum will be open for people to view this display of photographs as it opens to the public.

Target audienceAll ages.

Wednesday – Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm