Chronology of the Delaware Art Museum – 1912-1959


1912-1959 | 1960-19791980-2012

1912 The Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts (WSFA) is incorporated to preserve and exhibit the art of Howard Pyle; WSFA hosts its first juried exhibition, The First Annual Exhibition of Paintings by the Pupils of Howard Pyle.

Howard Pyle
An Attack on a Galleon
Illustration for “The Fate of a Treasure Town,” by Howard Pyle
Harper’s Monthly Magazine, December 1905
Oil on canvas
Delaware Art Museum Purchase, 1912
DAM #1912-32

1923 The WSFA acquires a “home” in the new Wilmington Institute Free Library Building at 10th and Market Streets facing Rodney Square.

Contemporary Sculpture exhibition held at the Wilmington Free Institute Library Building, Spring 1936

1935 The WSFA receives the Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, which, in addition to Bancroft’s collection of British Pre-Raphaelite Art and extensive library and archives, includes a plot of land on Park Drive (now called Kentmere Parkway) to construct a museum.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Found, begun 1859
Oil on canvas
Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935
DAM #1935-27

1938 The Delaware Art Center, housing the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, opens to the public, with galleries dedicated to the British Pre-Raphaelites, Howard Pyle and his students, and a growing collection of American Art.

Delaware Art Center building during the final stages of construction, 1938

1940 The WSFA receives two significant additions to the permanent collection: the bequest of Dr. Charles L. Reese Collection of more than 400 etchings and other prints; and The Mermaid, the last easel painting by Howard Pyle.

Howard Pyle
The Mermaid, 1910
Oil on canvas
Gift of the children of Howard Pyle in memory of their mother, Anne Poole Pyle, 1940
DAM #1940-12

1943 The Wilmington Academy of Art joins with the Delaware Art Center in 1943 to establish the Art Center’s first educational programs and by 1954 nearly 500 students a year from across Delaware were taking part in a wide variety of studio art courses.

Students attending art class, 1943

1954 The WSFA receives a gift of $300,000 from a trust fund set up under the will of H. Fletcher Brown for the purpose of building a wing, “adjacent to and connected with” the present Art Center building, to provide adequate space for the expanding Educational Program.

1956 The H. Fletcher Brown Wing opens to provide additional space for the Delaware Art Center’s expanding educational programs.

Architectural rendering of North elevation of the H. Fletcher Brown Wing, 1956

1959 The WSFA establishes a group of volunteers called the Docent Service Committee.

1912-1959 | 1960-19791980-2012


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