New Illustration Galleries Showcase America’s Imagination at the Delaware Art Museum

Reimagined galleries celebrate the legacy of Howard Pyle and the power of American illustration.

On Saturday, September 11, the Delaware Art Museum will unveil its reimagined galleries of American illustration, completing a series of gallery renovations throughout the Museum’s main floor. Shaped by feedback from over 100 Delawareans, “Illustration: America’s Imagination” explores the legacy of Howard Pyle and the power of illustration.

DelArt was founded to preserve the art and legacy of Howard Pyle. The reinstallation relocates the work of Pyle and his students to the spacious Peggy Woolard Gallery at the heart of the Museum. Images and objects from Pyle’s studio introduce visitors to the legacy of this Wilmington artist, who influenced generations of illustrators. Visitors to the new space will explore Pyle’s rich career and view his most significant works, including the five-foot-tall stained-glass window he designed for Tiffany.

The new display spotlights the power of illustration in American culture. Reproduced illustrations in books and magazines hang near the originals rendered in oil paint, demonstrating how these images became part of the fabric of popular life. “Illustrations were like Instagram 100 years ago – they were everywhere, and they shaped American visual culture,” says Chief Curator and Curator of American Art Heather Campbell Coyle. “Even today, these illustrations have tremendous power to spark imagination, take us back in time, and transport us to far-off places.”

The reimagined galleries also bring a critical lens to the values on display in the collection, guided by the feedback of visitors and of illustrators of color. In a new interpretive video, local leaders and contemporary illustrators respond to representations of race, sexuality, and gender in historic American illustration. The new galleries highlight the work of women and African American illustrators, a collecting focus of the Delaware Art Museum for the past five years and an area of recent conservation.

DelArt’s new display of Howard Pyle and American illustration marks the final and largest section of a reinstallation project that has transformed the Museum’s main floor over the past year. In addition to highlighting American Illustration, these stunning new displays showcase the Museum’s collections of the British Pre-Raphaelites, American Art through 1900, and John Sloan and the Eight.

One hundred Delawareans shaped the project by participating in focus groups and responding to prototyping. Community voices are also integrated into a new permanent collection audio tour available to visitors. “We are grateful to the community members who guided this project and look forward to sharing their voices with visitors this fall,” said Amelia Wiggins, Director of Communications & Engagement.

Illustration: America’s Imagination opens on Saturday, September 11. Free guided tours of the Museum are available most Sundays at 1 pm, with information and registration available at

Sponsors: The Museum’s reinstallation is made possible by the generosity of Sewell C. Biggs and foundations including the Choptank Foundation, the Starrett Foundation, the Richard C. Von Hess Foundation, and the Sansom Foundation. This organization 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

Press Contact: Amelia Wiggins, Director of Communications & Engagement, or 302-351-8503.

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 most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.

Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.

Image: So the Treasure Was Divided, from “The Fate of a Treasure Town,” by Howard Pyle, in Harper’s Monthly Magazine, December 1905. Howard Pyle (1853–1911). Oil on canvas, 19 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 1912.