After asking more than 100 Delawareans what they think about their museum, the Delaware Art Museum has reimagined its eight main floor art galleries. The existing galleries of American art and illustration and the Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art will close this spring, returning in Summer 2021 to reveal new stories shaped by community members’ feedback.
"There are new works to show and new stories to tell,” says Chief Curator Heather Campbell Coyle. “Entire collections are being relocated to improve visitor experience, and artworks have been conserved for future generations.”
This reimagination will be the first comprehensive Museum rehanging since 2005. Since then, thanks to new research and audience input, the collections have grown to include significant pieces by women and Black artists, telling a more inclusive story of visual arts. Newly acquired works will include a bust of Frederick Douglass by Isaac Scott Hathaway, paintings by 19th century African American artists Robert Duncanson and Edward Mitchell Bannister, and Botticelli’s Studio, a painting by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale on long-term loan to the Museum. The reinstallation will also bring focus to the role of local artists and collectors in the history of art.
The series of gallery reopenings kicked off this past fall when art by John Sloan was rehung on the main floor of the Museum. That gallery now tells the story of Sloan’s life as a working artist and displays works of Sloan and his rebellious group of painter friends, known as “The Eight.” Visitors engage with the consideration of the role of artists as activists in society.
Throughout the planning process, staff of the Museum reached out to community members for help designing a better Delaware Art Museum. “Thank you to all the visitors who participated in focus groups and gave us feedback," says Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement. “You helped us create bridges between the collections and the everyday lives of Delawareans. We look forward to seeing what fresh connections visitors make with art as our galleries reopen later this year.”
The North Wilmington Museum will remain open while these changes occur, with galleries closing and reopening on a rolling basis from March into September.
Full Schedule of Closures and Re-openings:
- On view now: New Gallery of John Sloan and the Eight
- Closed: March 22 – Sept. 8: Howard Pyle and American Illustration
- On view: March 22 – May 23: American Art 1757–1900 Limited selection
- Closed: May 26 – June 16: American Art 1757–1900
- Closed: June 21 – July 21: British Pre-Raphaelites
- Opening: Saturday, June 19: Picturing America (American Art through 1900)
- Opening: Saturday, July 31: Radical Beauty (British Pre-Raphaelites)
- Fully reopened: Saturday, September 11: Howard Pyle and American Illustration
About the Delaware Art Museum
For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art. Embracing all disciplines, the Museum’s Performance Series ranges from concerts by Pyxis Piano Quartet, resident ensemble of over ten years, to cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary artists committed to social justice and pushing the boundaries of artistic practice.
Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect via social media.