Hagley Museum & Library will close Jan. 4 for the winter so an underground electrical cable can be installed.
It’s the first time the seminal DuPont site has closed for the winter, and while it’s closed, it also will continue renovating the visitor’s center for its giant 2021 exhibition “Nation of Inventors.”
Hagley hopes to open again by Mid-March.
Home to the first du Pont family house in the colonies and the site of the company’s first battery of powder mills on the Brandywine River, Hagley has been a historical park for decades.
The grounds and its Hometown Heroes’ display of gingerbread houses will remain open through Sunday, Jan. 3, including during New Year’s eve and New Year’s day.
But after Monday, Jan. 4, only yoga classes and already-planned events at the Soda House will take place. The library — devoted to American business — will be open during limited hours, but only by appointment.
Being closed in winter is different for the site, said spokeswoman Laura Jury.
In previous years, “we’ve had an advantage because a lot of places like Nemours and even Winterthur were closed in the winter,” she said.
Conversely, after nearly a decade of being closed in the winter for routine maintenance and more, Winterthur Museum, Gardens and Library will be open. While members always have been allowed to walk the grounds, the former home of Henry F. du Pont will offer various programs and tours, on the property and online, much of it on the weekends. COVID restrictions will apply.
Nemours, Winterthur and Longwood Gardens are all former du Pont family estates. Longwood announced Thursday that it was keeping its Christmas display open through Jan. 17 and reopening indoor facilities.
The Hagley construction, called a direct-burial underground electrical project, will cut across paths and roads in the lower part of the property and require their excavation, Jury said.
The work will replace some 1970s electrical work, which is starting to disintegrate, she said. The same kind of work went on during the summer on Hagley’s upper property.
Infrastructure improvements are essential, she said, and the institution decided closing in winter would interfere the least with visitation.
While the electrical work is boing done, renovation construction will continue on its visitors center. When it’s finished, the entire building will be devoted to Hagley’s inventors exhibit that will celebrate innovation in America.
Inspired by Hagley‘s extensive collection of more than 5,000 19th-century patent models, the exhibition will walk visitors through the original patenting process, show innovation in action, and celebrate the unsung heroes of invention.
While the second and third floors of the Visitor’s Center have been used for exhibits, the first floor has not been changed since it opened in 1957. School children in particular may remember the giant map display that allowed them to press a button, see an area light up and hear a recording about the DuPont Co. property and products.
“It’s been a long, long process with demolition, taking everything down and finding homes for the pieces on display,” Jury said. “They will start putting up new walls and other construction in a couple of weeks.”
When Hagley does reopen in the spring, it plans to launch a new evening happy hour for guests behind the upper property’s rustic barn. That event is expected to feature local food trucks and drinks from area breweries.