Museum reinstalls Hank Willis Thomas’s Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot

In 2018, the Museum partnered with 19 organizations throughout the city of Wilmington to mark 50 years since the powerful and community-changing public response that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. The civil disturbances in Wilmington, which were followed by a nine-month occupation by the Delaware National Guard, left an indelible mark on the community.

Artist Hank Willis Thomas was commissioned by the Museum to respond to the events of 1968 through the creation of a new work of art that shed light on this complicated moment in the city’s history. Following the 2018 exhibition, the Museum acquired Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot from Thomas for the benefit of the communities we serve.

Two years later, Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot has been reinstalled and is on view now through September 27. The work is a series of 13 retroreflective screen prints based on photographs from The News Journal and a booklet in the collection of the Delaware Historical Society that is titled Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot.

The Delaware Art Museum rehung this poignant work of art in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests happening in Wilmington and around the world. The Museum is committed to supporting its community as it grapples with the emotional anxiety and strain of the violent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others as a result of systemic racism. As is laid out in its strategic vision, the Museum will continue to work with its partners to address critical social issues affecting its communities through civic discourse and creative expression.

The Delaware Art Museum reopened on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Museum Members received two weeks of exclusive access before opening to the general public on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The Museum will be free to the public from July 15-August 1.

To keep guests safe, Plexiglas shields have been installed at the front desk and in the Museum Store and all transactions are cashless, so visitors are encouraged to remember their credit cards. Guests are required to wear face masks and practice social distancing. The Thronson Café is be closed until further notice. Maps and brochures are only available electronically for the time being.

The Museum has returned to its regular operating hours, which are as follows: Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm; Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm.

Acknowledgment of Support

This exhibition is organized by the Delaware Art Museum. This exhibition t is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on

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Top: How to Live through a Police Riot [Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot] (detail), 2018, Hank Willis Thomas (born 1976), Screen print on retroreflective vinyl with aluminum backing, 62 x 48 inches. Delaware Art Museum, F. V. du Pont Acquisition Fund, 2019. Commissioned by the Delaware Art Museum. Photograph of Wilmington Riots and National Guard Occupation by Frank Fahey, 1968. Courtesy of The News Journal. Text from Northeast Conservation Association, Black Survival Guide, or How to Live Through a Police Riot, c. 1960s. Daniels Collection, courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society. © Hank Willis Thomas.