The Delaware Art Museum began in 1912 when a group of Wilmington residents who were all devoted friends and admirers of recently deceased artist Howard Pyle formed the Wilmington Society of the Arts. The purpose of the Society was to preserve and exhibit Howard Pyle’s works and to also promote fine arts in Delaware.
In 1935, the Wilmington Society of the Arts received a generous donation from the family of Samuel Bancroft Jr. They donated 11 acres to build a museum, and most importantly, the largest and finest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art and manuscripts outside of England.
In June 2005, the Delaware Art Museum, which is supported by a not-for-profit, private organization, re-opened after completing a three-year $30 million renovation of the existing 60,000 square feet museum and an addition of over 40,000 square feet. There are 17 galleries with only a fraction of the museum’s 12,000 art works on display. The mainstay of the museum is its four permanent collections: Howard Pyle and American Illustration; British Pre-Raphaelite Art; John Sloan; and American Art, 1757 – Present.
Howard Pyle was a gifted artist and art teacher from Wilmington. In this exhibit over 60 of his paintings are presented, including over a dozen of his celebrated and extraordinary pirate paintings. Included in the exhibit are art works by Pyle’s students, such as N.C. Wyeth, Frank E. Schoonover, and other renowned illustrators.
The Delaware Art Museum’s Pre-Raphaelite Art Museum houses over 150 forms of art consisting of drawings, photographs, illustrated books, decorative arts, and paintings. Pre-Raphaelite Art is primarily British artists of the 19th century who harmonized color, form, and composition. The collection features works of art by Ford Madox Brown, Edward Burnes-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frederick Sandys, John Everett Millais, Marie Spartali Stillman, William Homan, Simeon Solomon, and others.
The Delaware Art Museum houses the largest collection of John Sloan art. John Sloan focused his paintings on ordinary human life in the early 20th century, especially New York City from 1904 through the mid 1940’s. The exhibit also displays Sloan’s paintings of Santé Fe, New Mexico.
This exhibit presents art extending from the early 1800’s to the present. The collection displays famous examples of Early American Modernism, Abstraction, and Post Modernism.
The Delaware Art Museum also hosts many major traveling exhibitions enabling visitors to the museum an opportunity to experience various artists and artistic styles.
On the grounds of the Delaware Art Museum, sculptures are placed along winding, tree-lined, lush paths. Benches are strategically positioned for studying the sculptures or for just relaxing. There are a 13 foot Crying Giant, a sculpture that moves in the breeze, and even a sound sculpture. At the back of the Sculpture Garden is the Anthony N. Fusco Reservoir, which has been revamped into a labyrinth.
The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday hours are noon to 4:00 p.m.
The museum is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, New Year’s Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Seniors (60+) $10
Students (ID required) $6
Youth (7-18) $6
Children (6 and younger) Free
Families (up to 2 adults
And 4 youth) $25
Admission is free on Sundays because of a generous donation from AstraZeneca, and there is free admission on the first Friday of the month from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The address of the Delaware Art Museum is
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE 19806
Toll-free telephone 866-232-3714