Delaware Art Museum Undertakes Major Gallery Changes, Hosts Step Afrika! Dancers

Step Afrika! returns to Wilmington with special repertory performances this month

A significant “reinstallation and reinterpretation” of the Delaware Art Museum’s main-floor galleries will kick off in April.
The major project will run through November and impact more than 8,000 square feet of exhibition space housing its permanent collection of American art and illustration, including works by Howard Pyle, John Sloan, and Pre-Raphaelite Art. The overhaul will involve changes to gallery layout, renovation and upgrades of space and better prepare the museum to accommodate new exhibitions.
Museum curator Campbell Coyle said the work has been planned for two years with an eye to the future.
“There are new works to show and new stories to tell. Entire collections are being relocated to improve visitor experience,” said Coyle.
Its the first comprehensive rehanging of art since the museum opened its renovated building in 2005. The project was informed by community focus groups the museum conducted with the goal of designing a better visitor experience.  Feedback influenced the museum’s decision to enhance focus on the role of local artists and collectors in the “narrative of national art” through the reinstallation.
“Direct feedback from our audiences helped us create bridges between the collection and the contemporary experiences of Delawareans,” said Amelia Wiggins, who leads engagement for the museum. 
The Museum will remain open during these changes, with galleries closing and reopening on a rolling basis. Starting in early April and running through mid-July, a limited selection of works by Howard Pyle and his students will be on view; these galleries will be closed entirely from July through late November. Galleries dedicated to American art before 1900 will be closed from April 20 through the end of June. The Pre-Raphaelite Collection will be off view from July 6 through mid-August. Visitors can check for details and updates.


It is a busy time at the museum as programming continues in full force.  The high-energy dance company Step Afrika! will appear at the museum and other Wilmington venues later this month.

The professional dance troupe that performs stepping, an American invention rooted in African tradition, will showcase their talent with the performance of Drumfolk at the Grand Opera House on April 3 at 8pm.  Tickets are available at Starting the week of March 29, Step Afrika! will serve several thousand students in New Castle and Kent County by providing performances and in-school workshops.

It will be a return performance at the museum for Step Afrika!, after a successful 2018 residency.  This year the dancers will bring the story of Drumfolk, referring to African people who, through means of colonization, had their drums taken away, but continued to create rhythm with their bodies. 


For more information on student events and to sign up, visit For information on the Riverside Rhythm event for teens on April 1, please visit

Step Afrika! also heralds the return of the Museum’s extended Thursday hours with a demo performance and a spring happy hour on Thursday, April 2nd starting at 6 pm.


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