The Delaware Art Museum is in Wilmington, Delaware along the Kentmere Parkway. It is home to over 12,000 works of art and has a concentration of American art that dates from around the 19th century to the 21st century.
The history of the Delaware Art Museum dates to 1912 when students, friends, and fans of the artist Howard Pyle gathered in Wilmington to honor and remember the late artist. Pyle unexpectedly passed away while he was visiting Italy. That night, everyone who truly cherished Pyle decided they wanted to create a group that would adequately honor him. Thus, the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts was created. This society eventually obtained approximately 100 pieces of art completed by Pyle.
Rewind to 1880, when Samuel Bancroft Jr., a textile mill owner, sought out works of Pre-Raphaelite. Bancroft acquired various works of Pre-Raphaelite art from various artists, including; Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Jane and Jenny Morris, and Winifred Sandys. In the later years of Bancroft’s life, he also began collecting archival documents. Bancroft’s relentless search for Pre-Raphaelite artwork led to him owning the largest Pre-Raphaelite collection that is located outside the United Kingdom. This notion and recognition for Bancroft’s collection is still held today.
Bancroft passed away in 1915, and his family decided to donate his art collection, as well as 11 acres of land, to the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts on the term that the society would designate part of the museum to Bancroft’s Pre-Raphaelite collection. In 1938, the museum opened as the Delaware Art Center. A few years later, in 1943, the Wilmington Academy of Art established the first educational programs in the Delaware Art Center.
Fast forward to 1951 when Helen Farr Sloan’s husband, John Sloan, passed away. John Sloan was one of the most well-known American artists in the 20th century. After Helen organized John’s estate sale, she traveled to the Delaware Art Center to help create The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Exhibition of Independent Artists in 1910 exhibit. Helen fell in love with the museum, and its motto, so she decided to become very involved in the museum’s activities. Eventually, Helen became one of the most influential people the museum’s history has ever seen, and even helped the museum earn accreditation from the American Association of Museums. Once the museum earned its accreditation, the museum changed its name to the Delaware Art Museum.
The Delaware Art Museum’s permanent attractions are full of an array of artists and styles. Two of the heaviest concentrations are in British Pre-Raphaelite art and American art.
British Pre-Raphaelites is a form of artwork that rejected the art trends that were prominent in their time. Instead of creating modern art from their time, these artists would take inspiration from Middle Age art.
Howard Pyle exhibit features the breathtakingly beautiful pieces of art from Howard Pyle. Pyle had a strong reputation in the art community, and he was known as a renowned illustrator and storyteller. The New York Times even regarded Pyle as “the father of American magazine illustration as it is known to-day.”
American Illustration focuses on the work of Howard Pyle. Although it is concentrated on the illustrations that Pyle created, it also features many other renowned illustrators. Many of the featured illustrators were Pyle’s students.
Seeing the City: Sloan’s New York showcases the artwork of John Sloan. Sloan focused on capturing what human life was like in New York City by creating paintings, drawings, prints, and even taking photographs.
Like any other recognized museum, the Delaware Art Museum frequently houses collections that are traveling. It’s important to note that these collections are continuously changing, so check the Current Exhibitions tab on the museum’s website.
Currently, the Delaware Art Museum is housing four traveling art collections. These collections are; Truth & Vision: 21st Century Realism, Elizabeth Osborne: The Sixties, Fluidity, and Howard Pyle Murals.
The Delaware Art Museum has a variety of educational opportunities for people of all ages. Aside from the typical field trips and specialized group tours, the museum is home to many educational programs geared towards school children. Schools can have museum representatives travel to their classrooms, or even help organize an art show that features the children’s artwork. Another fantastic educational program that the museum has is geared towards homeschool students. Students who are homeschooled have the option of traveling to the museum for art classes with other students who are homeschooled. Finally, the museum has many studio art classes that are geared for adults.
2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware 19806, Phone: 302-571-9590