A Biggs Contribution to Delaware’s Abundant Art Scene

by Bridget FitzPatrick

A hidden gem in the middle of Delaware is Biggs Museum of American Art. Located in the state capital of Dover in the historic district, it is only about a 45-minute drive from southern Delaware and well worth the drive.

And a big thing coming to Biggs is a major collection of three generations of the famed Wyeth family. The exhibit runs from November 2 through the first week of January.

Bank of America, which owns the valued collection is loaning it to Biggs for this unique opportunity to view several works all at once. In fact, executive director Michael Dudich explains, “We are actually removing existing works temporarily to make room for and strategically place the artwork in chronological order.”

Museum Curator, Laura Fravel designed the exhibition for visitors to absorb the way each of the family artists matured and have their own signature styles.

Beginning in the first room, are works by the family’s patriarch, N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), beloved illustrator and fine artist. Whimsical magazine covers endeared him to many. Later, scenes of his home area of nearby Chadds Ford were often his subject, as were others depicting scenes near his summer home in Maine.

N.C. Wyeth’s son, Andrew, also well known as an illustrator and painter dominates the second room. He also painted many landscapes and objects, but was also known for his modern style of subjects many would describe as unsettling, even spooky.

N.C.’s daughter, Henriette Wyeth is also featured. Many of her works revolve around floral still life. In her words, she found herself attracted to floral arrangements, painting to “capture the moment before they wilt.”

N.C. Wyeth’s grandson Jamie is then featured. Now in his seventies, Jamie lives in Wilmington. His art also reflects scenes both regional and of Maine. Representing Delaware, “Patriot’s Barn” (2001) is a highlight of the exhibit, since it’s the only one in the collection of a Delaware subject.

Biggs Museum opened in 1993. Named after Sewell Biggs (1914-2003), a Delaware native and UD alumnus, the original collection consisted of Delaware and regional artists’ work not limited to paintings. For example, there are examples of finely crafted furniture, sculpture and other decorative art. The earliest work is from 1700.

As the museum has expanded, it still has an emphasis in its mission of supporting Delaware and Mid-Atlantic artists. Three competitive juried art competitions by regional artists take place each year. The museum also features school outreach, summer camps and other traveling exhibits.

In fact, it can boast that it has exhibited everything from Rembrandt to Ansel Adams and Maurice Sendak. But they remain committed to their emphasis on supporting local art.

Museum hours are Thursday through Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. Admission is a reasonable $10 or $8 for seniors 60+. For more information, visit Biggs Museum, or call (302) 674-2111. Located at 406 Federal Street in Dover, it is in the heart of the historic district. Also check out their wonderfully full event calendar with special lectures and other events, so you can plan your trip well!

Consider making a day of your visit by taking a walking tour of the district, followed by lunch or dinner at the iconic “1857 Jackson House” and learn more about culture in Dover, another easy day trip Delaware has to offer.

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