The Museum was established in 1923 by American Legion Post #25 (The Braxton/Perkins Post) as the American Legion Memorial Museum. The City of Newport News assumed administration of the Museum in the 1930's. In the course of the Museum's existence, it's name has changed twice. In 1948 the first name change took place when the entrance of the Museum moved from the southeastern side of the building to the northwestern side of the building (its current entrance location). In 1996 the name changed from The War Memorial Museum of Virginia to The Virginia War Museum.
Over the past 75 years, the Museum has acquired over 60,000 artifacts. The size of the collection is a blessing; however, due to limited display area only 4-5% of the Museum's collection can be displayed at any given time. In addition to limited display area, the Museum also has limited storage space for those artifacts not on display. Consequently, The Museum is currently exploring its options as to what it can do to rectify this problem. The goal is to have a facility that can store, preserve, conserve, and display more of its collection while providing storage and display space that enables its collection to expand.