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Delaware Cultural Sites: Arts, Museums, and Chateau Country
Small yet diverse, Delaware offers unique cultural attractions that showcase the distinct history and heritage of the state. Discover magnificent mansions and estates tucked into the rolling countryside of the Brandywine Valley – Delaware’s Chateau Country. Enjoy exceptional museums and performing arts. Expand your horizons when you dive into Delaware arts and culture.
Regal Garden Estates in Chateau Country
Travel back to America’s industrial age in Chateau Country, to a time when aristocrats like the DuPont family indulged in lavish lifestyles. Experience the pinnacle of this gilded era in Delaware’s Brandywine Valley, situated just northwest of Wilmington. Genteel groves of trees and gently rolling hills create a tranquil landscape for palatial mansions and estates. For generations, Chateau Country has been the state’s most exclusive region and the home of the DuPont family. Three mansions in the Brandywine Valley have been converted into must-see museums: Nemours, Winterthur, and Hagley.
Start where the DuPont family did: at the Hagley Museum and Library. Perched on the banks of Brandywine Creek, this 235-acre estate includes the family’s first home in America and the company’s original gunpowder mills. It also paints a picture of the industrial age. Tour the restored powder yards, the community where the workers lived, and the DuPont’s spectacular mansion and gardens.
On the other side of the river, you’ll find another elegant manor: Nemours Mansion and Gardens. Built in 1907, this breathtaking country estate is loaded with rare European furniture and Old-World charm. Take a long walk by the reflecting pool in the formal French gardens, complete with ornate statues and jetted fountains. See a fun collection of vintage vehicles in the chauffeur’s garage.
Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library is the last great estate of Chateau Country and perhaps the most exquisite. The mansion’s 175 rooms now display one of America’ finest collections of decorative arts, over 85,000 antiques in all. Ride a tram through beautifully designed gardens and picnic like royalty in the Enchanted Woods.
Intriguing Museums, Galleries, and Performing Arts
Most of Delaware’s museums are clustered in the northern region of the state around Wilmington and Dover. Admire a pleasing collection of paintings from British Pre-Raphaelites and American artists at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington. See Brandywine school illustrators, Wyeth landscapes, and a gorgeous outdoor sculpture garden. Nearby at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, you can marvel at the diversity of seashells and birds from around the world.
In Dover, the Biggs Museum of American Art showcases fine and decorative arts of the Mid-Atlantic region from the 1700s to today. See vintage airplanes nearby at the Air Mobility Command Museum, and recording memorabilia at the Johnson Victrola Museum. In Lewes, the Zwaanendael Museum reveals a glimpse of Southern Delaware’s early Dutch settlers and their architecture. Visit funky art galleries and studios in cool coastal villages like Rehoboth, Dewey Beach, and Bethany Beach.
The performing arts scene sizzles in Wilmington, where world-class options abound: symphonies, opera, and music concerts. The grand dame of the city is the Grand Opera House, a historic Victorian theater that has been carefully restored. It’s an unforgettable venue for performances by the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and the First State Ballet. Nearby at Rodney Square, the Playhouse hosts Broadway blockbusters. For nightlife, head to Trolley Square for fun clubs and excellent people-watching.
Broaden your horizons in America’s second-smallest state with interesting museums, exciting performing arts, and beautiful Chateau Country.