Reimagined galleries celebrate collection highlights and diversify stories told with art
On Saturday, July 31, the Delaware Art Museum will unveil its reimagined galleries of British Pre-Raphaelite art, continuing a series of gallery reopenings throughout the summer. Shaped by feedback from over 100 Delawareans, “Radical Beauty” explores the artists who rebelled against the Victorian art world to forge new ways of artmaking.
DelArt’s Pre-Raphaelite art collection is one of the largest outside of Great Britain, an attraction that draws art lovers far and wide to Wilmington. The reinstallation moves the collection to prominent main floor galleries at the Museum’s entrance.
The Museum’s collection of Pre-Raphaelite art was developed through the gift of Wilmington mill owner Samuel Bancroft. In recent years, the collection has been expanded with new acquisitions and interpretation. “The reimagined galleries celebrate not only the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but also the women artists in their circle and the diverse models they painted,” says Margaretta Frederick, Annette Woolard-Provine Curator of the Bancroft Collection. A new Museum audio tour features the story of Jamaican Pre-Raphaelite model Fanny Eaton, told by her great grandson. The Museum also recently acquired an academic study of an unknown Black model, by Victorian artist William Wise. Frederick hopes to uncover the model’s story through research and share it with visitors in the future.
The new gallery design vibrantly showcases a variety of art forms. “The Pre-Raphaelites were radical in ignoring divisions between art genre,” says Frederick. “They created paintings, wrote poetry, and sometimes merged the two.” The new galleries will integrate rich displays of decorative art, part of the Arts and Crafts Movement fostered by William Morris and Pre-Raphaelite artists. One showstopper is a newly acquired stained glass window of Noah, by Edward Burne-Jones.
Visitors to the galleries will also find fresh context for old favorites, developed in response to community members’ questions and interests. Audiences are invited to consider how the Pre-Raphaelites responded to industrial pollution and to explore the barriers female artists faced in Victorian England. “We are grateful to the community members who guided this project. We look forward to sharing their voices with visitors when the new galleries open,” said Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement.
Radical Beauty opens on Saturday, July 31, and guided tours are available in August, at delart.org. Reimagined main floor galleries will continue to open throughout the summer, and the Museum will remain open during these changes. Please check delart.org for details and updates.
Full Schedule of Closures and Reopenings:
On view now: New gallery of John Sloan and The Eight
On view now: Picturing America (American Art through 1900)
Through September 8: Howard Pyle and American Illustration Closed
Saturday, July 31: Radical Beauty (British Pre-Raphaelites) Opens
Saturday, September 11: Howard Pyle and American Illustration Opens; main floor galleries are fully reopened.
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 www.DelawareScene.com.
Press Contact: Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning & Engagement, firstname.lastname@example.org 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 delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.
Top: And their ears were dull of hearing, 1877. James Smetham (1821 – 1889). Oil on canvas, 27 3/4 x 18 1/2 inches, frame: 29 1/4 x 36 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches. Private Collection. The Council Chamber, 1872-1892. Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898). Oil on canvas, 49 1/4 × 105 5/8 inches, frame: 75 x 126 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935. Hymenaeus, 1869. Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898). Oil paint over gold leaf on panel, 32 1/4 × 21 1/2 inches, frame: 36 x 49 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935. Within the Beguinage, 1905. Aelfred Fahey (active 1902–1909). Oil on wood panel, 11 1/2 × 13 1/2 inches, frame: 21 x 18 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935. Romeo and Juliet, 1869-1870. Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893). Oil on canvas, 53 3/8 × 37 inches, frame: 62 1/2 x 44 1/2 inches. Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935.