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Museums in Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley

Museums in Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley

Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley offer art lovers a wealth of opportunities. Museums honoring legendary local figures as well as studios where tomorrow’s artists hone their craft make this region a haven for art enthusiasts.

The Delaware Art Museum was established in 1912 and is renowned for its collection of American art and illustration by Howard Pyle and English Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

Museums in Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley

The Brandywine River Museum of Art

Brandywine River Museum of Art stands as one of Delaware’s premier art museums with an outstanding collection of American illustration and landscape art from three generations of the Wyeth family, early American portraits and elegant still life paintings. 

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Housed within an historic nineteenth-century mill that now includes modern glass wall additions offering expansive views across bucolic Delaware landscape, this museum stands as an outstanding attraction.

The campus of The Delaware Art Museum is an innovative blend of art and nature, featuring outdoor sculptures and trails to discover. Visitors can experience its collection through glass lobbies on each floor, or stroll scenic trails leading up to an historic bluff overlooking Brandywine River.

Apart from its galleries, the Museum provides engaging programs and events to showcase the abundant artistic heritage of the region. Furthermore, in collaboration with local organizations the Museum presents educational programs on cultural and natural resources present within the Brandywine-Christina watershed.

Established in 1967, the Museum began as part of a grassroots effort to protect Hoffman’s Mill from development. Through fundraising efforts by community members, funds were raised for purchasing the property and founding the Brandywine Conservancy; its purpose is to preserve water, natural, and cultural resources of Brandywine-Christina Watershed across Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Early 19th-century artists who explored landscape painting as a mode of artistic expression visited the Brandywine Valley to capture its distinctive beauty through painting. 

Bass Otis published one of the earliest lithographs depicting Chester County scenes in 1819; many other artists, including Edward Moran, Thomas Doughty, Jasper Francis Cropsey and William Trost Richards of Chester County created powerful works reflecting its special charms such as Bass Otis’ first lithograph in 1819 and other prominent landscape painters such as Bass Otis published the nation’s first lithograph of Chester County scenes 1819.

Bass Otis published his first national lithograph depicting Chester County scenes in 1819 with his landmark work depicting Chester County scenes depicted accurately depicting Chester County scenes that captured its special characteristics such as those unique to Chester County such as Thomas Doughty Jasper Francis Cropsey and William Trost Richards who created powerful works which captured its unique features through painting.

The Delaware Contemporary

The Delaware Contemporary is a museum where art, community and education converge. Their goal is to connect people to contemporary art through exhibitions, school programs and public events; their Artist Residencies program also offers local artists with resources; seven galleries are housed there with 26 on-site studios for artist residencies as well as a high-tech auditorium and gift shop – not forgetting all their free and low cost programs available to everyone in attendance!

This museum uses a non-collecting model to host 24 exhibitions each year featuring local, regional and nationally-known artists from diverse artistic fields – both local, regional, and nationally known – exploring cultural, political, religious and social issues that impact daily life. Their collection contains more than 3,000 works including modernist, contemporary and modernist art from American Midwest as well as visiting artist studio programs as well as educational partnerships with schools.

In 1912, a group of businesspeople and citizens joined together to form the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts to preserve Howard Pyle’s artwork as an illustrator and art school founder. Later, in 1935, an anonymous donation from Bancroft family added British Pre-Raphaelite art into its growing collection.

Today, the museum occupies 33,000-square-feet with seven art galleries, 26 studios and an auditorium. It presents more than 24 exhibitions each year by established and emerging artists alike, while offering educational collaborations with local schools as well as hosting a Creative Arts Club and artist residency program.

Alongside its exhibitions, the museum provides public art workshops and classes such as Open Figure Drawing with studio artist Jenna Lucente for two hours every other Saturday morning, as well as Hatha Yoga Flow classes that combine art with wellness.

Delaware Contemporary is not only home to art exhibitions; its three spaces can also be utilized for weddings. Couples may utilize its 33,000 square feet for their bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception events. Your guests will love taking advantage of its riverfront location! 

Amongst all of this elegance lies seven art galleries for added appeal – an added plus that any couple using these spaces for wedding events may also host art exhibits!

The Blue Ball Barn

Alapocas Run State Park boasts a wonderful two-story barn that perfectly symbolizes Delaware’s past and present with its eclectic collection of cultural artifacts from throughout its history. 

Home to Delaware’s famed folk art collection and conference rooms suitable for special events – including one set up within an original hayloft, this venue also makes an excellent venue for hiking or picnicking!

The Blue Ball barn is part of an estate farm complex constructed to service Alfred I. du Pont’s Nemours estate. Constructed in 1914 as part of the Scientific Agriculture movement – which incorporates new developments into traditional farm structures -, its dairy barn and milk house were part of a larger complex with sixteen other outbuildings.

Today, the Blue Ball Barn serves as both a community center and museum with an educational mission. As an architectural landmark in its region, it stands as an example of successfully merging technology with historical preservation while meeting both aesthetic and functional aspirations simultaneously.

The Blue Ball Barn hosts numerous events throughout the year. Visitors can take pleasure in live music, food and beverage offerings from local vendors.

Nashville singer/songwriter Katelyn Christine provides entertainment on Friday nights with country originals and covers by her live band, Leslie Hubbard Wildlife Portraits; sheep shearing demonstrations by Daisy Timney as Sheep and Wool Ambassador for Delaware! Its location makes for memorable occasions like weddings or parties!

The Delaware Children’s Museum

Delaware Children’s Museum (DCM), situated on Wilmington riverfront, is the sole museum dedicated to children in Delaware. With exhibits that promote creative sparks that lead to objective learning outcomes as well as safe and enriching spaces where both kids and families can play together safely and creatively, DCM stands as an unparalleled learning center in its state.

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DCM’s interactive experiences are tailored to engage children through arts, sciences and technology. For example, its “Build It Like an Architect” exhibit allows kids to use real-size blocks to design their own structures; its “ECOnnect” exhibition provides visitors with information about native insects, fish and plants; while Studio-D Art Room provides participants with rotating craft activities to enjoy.

The DCM also hosts educational programs geared toward children and their caregivers, including “Family Art Adventures,” where kids and parents alike can create artwork based on a different theme each month; “Water Wise” this month being an example. Other opportunities for education and entertainment at the DCM include Numberpalooza: an extravaganza for mathematicians; Aviation Adventures for physics lessons.

Exploding Sidewalk Chalk for chemical experiments; DCM Gym for mobility testing purposes and Plant Pals classes dedicated solely for plant care – among many more opportunities besides just these ones!

As well as its permanent galleries, the DCM also hosts temporary exhibits. In 2009, it hosted Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs; more recently in 2014 it presented China’s Terra Cotta Warriors exclusively in America for exhibition purposes.

DCM also organizes international touring exhibits; this year featuring New York City’s interactive play space Imagination Playground as its star attraction.

As part of your visit, you’ll also have access to Riverwalk Mini Golf, an 18-hole miniature golf course featuring riverfront views in Wilmington; and The DCM Cafe serving 9 flavors of soft serve ice cream, Philadelphia water ice, milkshakes and Coca Cola fountain sodas.

The DCM offers an ideal family-friendly activity during the chilly winter months. Children can have fun, socialize with other children and release pent up energy, often leaving parents happy that their child slept soundly afterward! There is something fun and educational at The DCM – be sure to spend an enjoyable day here with those you care for!


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