From museums that celebrate the works of local icons to studios where you can find the artists of tomorrow skillfully honing their crafts, Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley is an absolute haven for all art lovers.
Delaware Art Museum
The roots of the Delaware Art Museum trace all the way back to the founding of the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts in 1912. It’s mission, to preserve and exhibit the works of Howard Pyle, the Wilmington, Delaware native, illustrator and teacher. Pyle, who was often referred to as the father of modern illustration may be best known for his illustrative works such as The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and King Author as well as his may illustrations and depictions of pirates.
Today, the Delaware Art Museum regularly exhibits works from their collection of over 100 Howard Pyle works of art alongside the largest collection of pre-Raphaelite art outside the British Isles, a collection of urban landscapes by John Sloan, and a number of works from Pyle’s students, including N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Frank E. Schoonover and other famous illustrators. The museum also features a sculpture garden and regularly changing travelling exhibits.
Howard Pyle Studio
For those who are impressed by the Howard Pyle pieces on display at the Delaware Art Museum, their next stop should be the Howard Pyle Studio on Franklin Street in the heart of Wilmington’s Trolley Square neighborhood. Pyle famously used this studio for teaching young artists, and that trend continues today thanks to the Studio Group. Tours are available here only during exhibitions or by appointment, so be sure to call ahead.
Brandywine River Museum of Art
Heading north from Wilmington, you will find the Brandywine River Museum of Art just a bit past the Pennsylvania border and in the heart of the Brandywine Valley. This rustic museum is best known for its collection of the Wyeth family of artists and features galleries dedicated to the work of N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth. The museum’s Heritage Collection demonstrates American Art, with emphasis on artists who practiced their craft in the Brandywine Valley. In addition, the nineteenth and twentieth-century landscape paintings speak to the beauty that drew artists to the area.
The campus of the Brandywine River Museum of Art is beautiful set along the flow of the Brandywine River, and offers guests the opportunity to visit both N.C. Wyeth’s house and studio as well as Andrew Wyeth’s studio and the inspirational Kuerner Farm.
The Delaware Contemporary
The Delaware Contemporary, located in Wilmington’s Riverfront district, is a non-collecting museum of contemporary art and a dynamic creative space for the exploration of new ideas. The Delaware Contemporary’s ever-changing, thought-provoking exhibitions and programs are a must for any modern art enthusiast. The museum houses 7 galleries, 26 artists' studios, a gift store, a high-tech auditorium, and a classroom and presents 30 exhibitions annually of regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized artists.
Blue Ball Barn
Tucked away within the beauty of Wilmington’s Alapocas Run State Park is Blue Ball Barn. The original structure, built in 1914 by Alfred I. du Pont, has evolved over the years and is now a unique two-story glass and stone barn that houses Delaware’s folk art collection and is an example of the preservation and adaptive reuse of an historic structure.
Want even more art when visiting Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley?
The art collections within the du Pont family estates that dot Wilmington’s countryside is not easily rivaled. Explore the du Pont family’s ancestral home at Hagely Museum, Henry Francis du Pont’s 175-room Winterthur Museum and Garden, or A. I. du Pont’s Nemours Estate with its 77-room mansion and exquisite formal French gardens.
The next time you find yourself planning a trip to Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley, don’t forget to visit some of these local treasures.