Monday, March 10, 2014

The Art Museum Tour: Delaware Art Museum

 

What is Art?  Is it something you create?  Is it something that you feel?  Is it something that you can share with others?  The Delaware Art Museum presents the idea that Art is all of these and much more.  It's fun, surprising, passionate, tasty, unexpected, and above all, it can be found everywhere.  Daily Vacationer knows it can definitely be found in countless forms in a beautiful building on a quiet residential street in Wilmington, DE.

Courtesy of Delaware Art Museum
The original Art Museum was built in 1935 during the Depression as a result of a couple of gifts from Samuel Bancroft Jr., owner of Bancroft Mills, to the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts in the form of his extensive Pre-Raphaelite collection and land to build a building to store the collection (still the largest in the world outside of the United Kingdom).  The Fine Art Society had been formed in 1912 in the memory of illustrator and teacher, Howard Pyle, by his students and admirers in order “to promote the knowledge and enjoyment of and cultivation in the fine arts in the State of Delaware.”  $350,000 dollars were raised in the middle of the Great Depression for the construction and endowment of the Delaware Art Museum, which opened to the public in 1938.  Since then, it has grown and undergone constant improvements, with the final extensive renovation taking place in 2005.
 
Both the North Entrance and South Entrance lead into the Fusco Great Hall where the Persian Window by well-known artist, Dale Chihuly, commands the attention of everyone with its breath-taking forms and colors.  Just off this impressive room, one can explore American Art from the popularity of portraiture with the early settlers to the fascination with natural landscapes in the 19th century.  For great examples of the amazing detail in early and later years, try to get a good look at Pricilla Cobb Smith by Otis Bay in Gallery 1 (Art in Colonial and Federal America) and The Old Violin by Jefferson Davis Chalfant in Gallery 3 (The Gilded Age in America).

Head back across the Fusco Great Hall to enter the world of American Illustration, featuring the works of Howard Pyle (in who's memory the original Fine Art Society was formed), as well works by his students and contemporaries.  In a time when national literacy was growing in leaps and bounds, artists like Howard Pyle became famous for their illustrations for books, magazines, and advertisements.  Pyle was himself a story writer as well as a teacher to artists like N.C. Weyth, who would go on to make his own fame in the art world.  Pyle's illustrations are so vivid in their detail and emotion that they easily stand alone without the context of a storyline to make them come to life.  One of the best examples of this is Marooned in Gallery 6 (American Illustration), where the stricken and hopeless body language of the man on the beach cries out for empathy.
 
The Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art is located nearby with room after room of unbelievable pieces donated by Samuel Bancroft Jr. to the Fine Art Society during the Great Depression.  A collection of paintings, photographs, illustrated books, drawings, and decorative arts, the Bancroft Collection immerses visitors in the culture of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, including their fascination with literary and Biblical figures.  Simeon Solomon's Mother of Moses was a stand out, though the beautiful women of Dante Gabriel Rossetti were more common for the time period.  Definitely give yourself time to take in all the gorgeous details found within this exhibit.

The Upper Level is the home of more contemporary art with galleries that include Early American Modernism, Abstraction, and American Art after Postmodernism.  Experience works from artists who turned the concept of art from what it always had been to what it could be.  Infused with personal experiences and driven by political forces, these galleries challenge visitors to look past the obvious and into the message behind the pieces.  Located in Gallery 17 (American Art after 1940 Postmodernism: American Art since 1980), one can't help but be drawn to the shape of Keith Bentley's Cauda Equina and the illusion of Chul-Hyun Ahn's Tunnel.  The walkway on the Upper Level also gives a great view of Black Crescent by Alexander Calder in the East Court and the Persian Window along the Chihuly Bridge.  Gallery 13 and 14 (A Century of Illustration) take visitors through the adaptations in the art of illustration as it influenced and was influenced by the changing culture.

The rest of the Delaware Art Museum is just as diversified as its permanent exhibits.  The Lower Level houses the Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives that can be utilized by appointment, as well as the Dupont Auditorium, the Jefferson Meeting Room, and a fun and interactive space for children called the Kid's Corner.  A number of additional galleries on the Main and Upper Levels display special exhibits, including FiberNext (until April 13th), Fashion, Circus, Spectacle: Photographs by Scott Heiser (until June 1st), and Blessed are the Peacemakers: Violet Oakley's The Angel of Victory (until May 25th).  Those looking to take their experience home with them can find the Museum Store on the Main Level directly next to the delicious Thronson Café.  Make sure you take the time to explore the Copeland Sculpture Garden located out the North Entrance of the Museum.  Crying Giant by Tom Otterness, is pure emotion in 13 feet of bronze, while the Labyrinth in the Anthony N. Fusco Reservoir guides a calm journey to its center.
 

Courtesy of Delaware Art Museum
The Delaware Art Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sundays from noon to 4pm.  Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for student with valid ID, and $6 for youths ages 7 to 18.  Admission is FREE for children 6 years and younger.  The Museum also offers FREE admission every Sunday for everyone.  They participate in the Blue Star Museums and Museums on Us programs giving FREE admission to military families between Memorial Day and Labor Day and FREE admission to Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders the first full weekend of each month.  Families can also purchase an admission package for up to 2 adults and 4 children for only $25.  Daily Vacationer highly recommends purchasing a museum membership beginning at only $50 and allows for FREE admission year round to the museum, special events, guest passes for all children or grandchildren up to age 17, and much more!


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5 comments:

  1. I've never been the this museum, yet it's so close to home. Thanks for this view in, I nee to put it on my list!

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  2. I can't believe I've NEVER been! Thanks for a great review.

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  3. I can't believe I live so close, but never go! Maybe a date with my hubs sans kids!! Want to make sure I soak it all in!

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  4. This sounds great and how cool to offer a family admission rate.

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