The first thing you see entering the Museum from the Atlantic Avenue side is a variety of antique and contemporary decoys along with pictures and information related to the wildfowling history of the Back Bay area. There is also a mural of the Atlantic Flyway, a diorama of Back Bay habitat and wildlife and an interactive computer that teaches you about our local wildfowl.

Click To Enlarge (Opens In New Window)


Return to Top


     The new exhibit in the Main Gallery, antique decoy section, is once again exclusively Canadian decoys made in the 1950’s. Last year’s exhibit received such glowing comments that it was decided to do a repeat with a completely new group of decoys and focus on just three Canadian carvers; Ken Anger, Reginald Bloom and D.W. “Davey” Nichol. Although all three carvers are from Ontario, each one has his own unique carving style and there is certainly a difference in their painting techniques. This new selection of decoys will be on display until May 2013. The antique decoy section also contains original artwork by Rob Leslie one of the foremost waterfowl artists of today. There is more information about Rob in the Art Gallery section.

Click To Enlarge (Opens In New Window)

Widgeon pair D W Nichol

Redhead pair Ken Anger

Pintail pair Reginald Bloom

Canvasback Pair Madison Mitchell

Bluebill pair Davey Nichol

View of main gallery area

Return to Top


     In the contemporary carving section is the decorative waterfowl carvings of Al Brandtner. Al has been carving for over twenty years and is considered a master of decorative carving by many of his contemporaries. The Pintail pair currently on display is particularly striking and is the centerpiece of this ten bird exhibit. It is worth a trip to the Museum just to see Al’s work.

The bronze sculptures of Dr. William and David Turner are also featured, highlighted by the award winning, life-size Great Blue Heron titled “Taking Flight”. Other pieces of their work are sprinkled throughout the first floor including a Bufflehead taking flight, a Belted Kingfisher, Brown Pelican and blue crab to mention only a few.

A tour of the Main Gallery would not be complete without stopping to see the life-size Brown Pelican carved by Virginia S. Synhoff (1915-1994) at the age of 78. This is one of the most talked about pieces in the Museum.

The Mason Decoy Factory “model house” has been part of the Museum exhibit since the grand opening in September 1995. The factory was built by Keith Littlejohn of Detroit MI. and like the Pelican is very popular with visitors.

The Gallery also has vintage shotguns on display, a 1950-60 hunting club photo & hunting diary, and several pieces of hunting memorabilia round out the gallery, including iron decoys and a replica of a “fender duck”.

Click To Enlarge (Opens In New Window)

Pintail pair Al Brandtner

Mallard pair Al Brandtner

Goldeneye drake Al Brandtner

Al Brandtner with Pintails 2


Make yourself comfortable in the area set up like a hunting lodge and chat awhile.

Hunting lodge area

Al & Jamie

Return to Top


     As you enter the carving room you will be greeted by one of our resident carvers. You will be able to watch him as he demonstrates his skills and he will explain his carving techniques while answering any questions you may have. Please check the “Carvers” button on the home page for information on each volunteer carver. If you happen to visit the Museum when a carver is not available you will still be able to tour the carving room while viewing examples of the phases the carvers go through to obtain their finished product.



Return to Top


     The art work in the Main Gallery and in the second floor Art Gallery is the work of Robert “Rob” Leslie who grew up in Wisconsin where hunting is a family tradition. In 1985 Rob moved to Turnersville, NJ and began to put the wildlife around him on canvas. Rob’s acrylics and oils of wildlife, particularly waterfowl, have earned him national acclaim.

Click To Enlarge (Opens In New Window)

Crosswind Canvasbacks

Canvasbacks Over Back Bay

Morning's End Pintails

Jersey Scaups

Return to Top


     The pictorial history of Virginia Beach, located on the second floor, contains photos, post cards and other memorabilia from the collection of the late Edgar T. Brown, the unofficial historian of Virginia Beach. This exhibit, which was expanded in 2006, has become very popular among our visitors. The main upstairs hallway, adjacent to the Edgar T. Brown exhibit, contains photographs of the de Witt family and a 1930’s era surfboard made by Peter, the youngest of the de Witt children.


Return to Top



     In addition to the Cottage, the Museum also includes two outbuildings.... Virginia Beach's first library and the Museum boathouse. The library was moved to the Museum grounds in 2003 and contains vintage books and artifacts from the 1930-40 era when the library was active. Emily Johns was the first librarian. The boathouse is a new building that replaced an original building on-site during the time the de Witt's lived in the cottage. Today the building is used to conduct carving classes and provide visitors with a place to observe a carver and occasional artist demonstrating their skills.

Click To Enlarge (Opens In New Window)

Library exterior

Library interior

Boathouse mural

Decoratives in boathouse


     The seaside garden is one of the most beautiful spots on the Virginia Beach oceanfront and contains nearly 50 flowers, scrubs and trees. It was designed and planted by the Princess Anne Garden Club. This garden was designed to flourish in a salt air environment and has been a regular stopping spot for the annual Virginia Historic Garden Week.



     As visitors enter the grounds from Atlantic Avenue the first thing they encounter is the wildfowl sculpture of five Mallards. The bronze sculpture was designed by David Turner from Virginia’s Eastern Shore and it is a beautiful addition to the Cottage as well as the garden area. Commemorative plaques surround the base of the sculpture.


Return to Top