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Wilmington, Delaware (May 3, 2017)…Where can you see a garden larger than New York City’s Central Park, the world’s most extensive collection of American decorative arts, and the finest example of a French formal garden anywhere in the United States? Look no further than Wilmington, Delaware, and the Brandywine Valley. Many of these treasures can be traced to the du Pont family, which fled France and barely escaped the guillotine. By 1802 they had settled in Delaware, right along the banks of the beautiful Brandywine River, and began harnessing its power to make high-quality gunpowder. And that laid the foundation for the mighty DuPont Company.
Wilmington is the gateway to the beautiful Brandywine Valley. Located midway between New York City and Washington on Interstate-95, Wilmington is readily accessible by car, train or plane. Guests can visit 11 area attractions now for as little as $4.09 per attraction thanks to the Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport, which is their ticket to enjoy rich history, inspiring cultural sites and glorious gardens from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. The 11 participating attractions are some of the Brandywine Valley’s top attractions, many of which offer new additions and special exhibits this summer:
Brandywine River Museum of Art
Housed in a dramatic, glass-sided, restored grist mill overlooking the Brandywine River, the museum showcases art by three generations of the Wyeth family and an outstanding collection of American art. This year the museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of Andrew Wyeth’s birth by mounting a major retrospective exhibition. www.brandywinemuseum.org
Delaware Art Museum
Founded more than 100 years ago to preserve the works of Wilmington resident and esteemed illustrator Howard Pyle, the museum boasts an outstanding collection of American illustration and the most extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside the British Isles. An upcoming exhibition titled The Original Mad Man: Illustrations by Mac Conner explores the advertising campaigns “Mac” created during a period when Madison Avenue advertising was at its peak. www.delart.org
Located on Wilmington’s vibrant Riverfront, this non-collecting museum mounts 30 changing exhibitions annually, featuring artists of regional and national significance, and provides studio space for 26 local artists. www.decontemporary.org
Delaware History Museum, including the Read House & Garden
Permanent and rotating exhibitions document two centuries of Delaware and du Pont history. The newest addition is the Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. The Read House in Historic New Castle is a 22-room Federal house built by George Read II, son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house overlooks the Delaware River and is surrounded by one-and-one-half acres of formal gardens. www.dehistory.org
Delaware Museum of Natural History
Discover the wonders of the natural world at this interactive museum, which allows guests to explore an African watering hole, journey across the Great Barrier Reef and meet life-sized dinosaurs and a giant squid. www.delmnh.org
Hagley Museum & Library
Visitors see the original du Pont powder mills, walk through a 19th-century workers’ village and tour the ancestral home of five generations of the du Pont family. New this year is an exhibit that offers a sampling of the world’s largest collection of patent models. www.hagley.org
Recognized as one of the world’s premier gardens, Longwood surpasses New York City’s Central Park in size with 1,077 acres of outdoor gardens and four acres of gardens under glass in the conservatory. The Main Fountain Garden reopens in late May after undergoing a two-year, $90-million revitalization project. www.longwoodgardens.org
Mt. Cuba Center
The 600-acre estate of Lammot and Pamela du Pont Copeland is now a horticultural center for the study and preservation of flora and fauna native to the Piedmont region. Enjoy a mix of formal gardens, the new perennial gardens, trial gardens, woodland paths, meadow walks and tranquil ponds surrounded by wildflowers. www.mtcubacenter.org
Modelled after Marie Antoinette’s Le Petit Trianon and built by the legendary architects Carrere and Hastings, who designed the New York Public Library, the 70-room mansion is filled with an incredible collection of antiques, artwork and furniture. Formal gardens, colonnades, sunken pools and incredible statuary decorate the surrounding grounds. www.nemoursmansion.org
Rockwood Museum & Park
This Rural Gothic Revival-style mansion built for Joseph Shipley, Jr. in the 1850s is now a museum operated by New Castle County. Interpretations are devoted to the people who lived in the 50-room mansion, both upstairs and down. www.rockwood.org
Winterthur Museum, Gardens & Library
Henry Francis du Pont’s 175-room mansion houses the world class collection of American decorative arts he amassed. Outside, 1,000 acres surround the mansion and narrated tram rides through 60 acres of naturalistic gardens are offered throughout the day. This summer guests can find out how the experts detect fakes and forgeries in the much talked-about Treasures on Trial exhibition. www.winterthur.org
The 2017 Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport lets visitors access the very best Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley offer. Individual Passports are $45. Family Passports, good for two adults and three children ages 17 and under, are only $95. The Passport is valid from May 27, 2017 through September 4, 2017 for one-time admission to each of the 11 area attractions listed above.
Passports can be purchased online at https://www.visitwilmingtonde.com/passport. They may also be purchased on-site at the following locations: Brandywine River Museum of Art, Delaware Art Museum, Hagley Museum, Longwood Gardens, Mt. Cuba Center, Winterthur Museum and the Downtown Wilmington Visitors Center.
Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley is in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region and less than a two-hour drive from both New York City and Washington. Steeped in American history and the legacy of the famed du Pont family, Greater Wilmington is a destination marked by sharp contrasts – town and garden, past and present, historic and hip. From renowned gardens, world-class museums, colonial towns, outdoor adventure, festivals and an ever-growing craft beer and restaurant scene, each experience is more vibrant, more unique and more authentic than the last. Learn more at VisitWilmingtonDE.com. And to see the beauty of the Brandywine Valley now, watch this: https://youtu.be/KyPWLnciO0E.
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