The 10 Best Museums in Delaware!

So much of our global history is housed between the walls of local museums so if you want to explore the inner workings of the United States, the museums of Delaware, the nation’s first state, are an excellent starting point. Delaware goes above and beyond when it comes to history, education and preservation. It cleverly combines elements of past, present and future with artistic backdrops that celebrate, innovate and inspire. From shipwreck artifacts to ornate mansion memorabilia, from an aviator’s haven to a child’s imaginative playground, here’s a glimpse at Delaware’s finest museums.

1. Rockwood Museum and Garden, Wilmington, DE

With so much of this section of Delaware being operated in the memory of the DuPont family, it’s nice to see a setting that features a different famous mansion, the likes of which was previously owned by the Shipley family of Wilmington. If you find yourself at all intrigued by Gothic Revival architecture and/or memorabilia, you’ll be delighted to hear that this hidden gem features a house complete with its original trim, furnishings and keepsakes. Everything here is authentic, all the way down to the clothes in the closets. Rockwood shines in winter, when the frost and snow add a magical element that’s easier to experience than it is to describe. Behind the glamour and prestige sits just a hint of suspense at the thought that the facility might very well be haunted. It has been featured on national television as a likely location for paranormal activity. If you’re a history buff or a paranormal fanatic, this museum is an off-the-beaten-track treasure and on top of that, it’s free to enter Wednesday through Sunday all winter long.

2. The Winterthur Museum, Wilmington, DE

This grandiose museum will have you in an aristocratic mood in no time. Situated onto 1,000 rolling acres, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the high society, vintage atmosphere the facility affords, despite its modern city location. Visitors here will be presented with a surplus of more than 90,000 historically-significant artifacts all of which have been made to decorate an elaborate 175 room mansion. Highlights of the tour include formal gardens, galleries, a sprawling look at the DuPont Mansion, a romp through the “Enchanted Woods” and a nationally-renowned research center that is open to inquiring minds of all ages. Admission into the museum is priced at $20 per adult with children costing $5 and babies in arms welcomed onto the grounds for free. Several unique programs and discount packages are available and this is also a nonpareil place to host an event like a wedding or corporate luncheon. It’s an absolute must see in winter, hence the name.

3. Delaware Children’s Museum, Wilmington, DE

The wee ones will certainly get a kick out of visiting this vibrant, waterfront attraction and its location makes it an optimal family choice. The Delaware Children’s Museum, known by locals as DCM, is an interactive space where children learn through touching, feeling and climbing. The museum is abundant with lively, colorful exhibitions that encourage the children who visit to problem solve in real time and to learn through experience. Noteworthy exhibits include a 600-gallon hands-on aquarium, a sustainable city, an art studio complete with colossal easels and on-site smocks and Structures, an exhibit that introduces young minds to the elemental building blocks of architecture. The museum opens at 10 a.m. sharp from Tuesday through Sunday and is closed on Mondays and most nationally-recognized holidays. Admission comes in at just under $9 per visitor. Nearby attractions that make this a worthwhile pit stop for the whole family include Iron Hill Brewery and the shops at Wilmington waterfront.

4. Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover, DE

This Delaware museum is unparalleled in its efforts to preserve the history of aviation. With over 30 different aircrafts at each visitor’s disposal, not to mention its Open Cockpit Saturday program, a monthly event that showcases rare planes and the pilots who once flew them giving first hand recollections of their days in flight, visitors are guaranteed a one-of-a-kind experience. Admission here is free of charge and this is also a pet-friendly facility, making it a win, win for Fido and the family.

5. DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum, Fenwick Island, DE

This little oddity by the sea is a bit of a novelty for the fact that it’s newer than most of its rivals it’s also independently run, making for some rather unexpected finds between its walls. A visit to the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum puts you on-deck with some of the most bewildering maritime horrors. This location maintains a collection of over 10,000 shipwreck related objects. Its unique location allots an expansive view of the vast ocean along the Delmarva Peninsula and it’s easily accessible via Ocean City and the Delaware beaches of Rehoboth, Bethany, Slaughter, Dewey, etc. The museum is only open on weekends during the winter months but it’s worth a daytrip if you’re keen on frosty oceans and snow-covered sand. Feel free to visit seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. during the summer months and be certain to plan around their annual renovations which take place during January, February and March. One of the coolest aspects about this museum, aside from its little-known presence and interesting niche, is the fact that it features several rotating exhibits so there’s sure to be something new to see with each visit.

6. Delaware Museum of Natural History, North Wilmington, DE

This is your classic science museum, brimming with exhibits designed to ignite a sense of adventure and exploration while instilling a deep appreciation for ancient history. Here you can browse dinosaur fossils, gander at the giant squid, learn about mammals, wildflowers and Delaware geology and head home with a cool gift shop souvenir. The Delaware Museum of Natural History features the type of big city scenery found in Philadelphia museums but in Delaware the experience costs just a fraction of the price when you take into consideration the tax-free shopping, the discount admission (just $9 for adults, $7 for children and teens and free for children under three years of age) and the abundance of free parking within walking distance of this destination.

7. Hagley Museum, Wilmington, DE

This multi-faceted museum is an ode to just about everything from science to enterprise, from the celebration of working-class heroes to a taste of the upper crust society. A trip here will give you a glimpse into the history of Delaware’s famous DuPont family, the automobile, 19th century machinery, industry, innovation and more. Parking is free and the museum is conveniently situated near an abundance of biking, driving and public transit options. Hagley is currently the only Smithsonian affiliated museum in the region. Its ever-brimming calendar is constantly filling up with adventures from winter break camp to twilight tours. Hagley is a community staple to behold.

8. Zwaanendael Museum, Lewes, DE

If you have, or would like to acquire, a passion for 17th century Dutch history and/or lighthouses, this museum will certainly ignite that curiosity. The Zwaanendael Museum is unlike anything you’re likely to see elsewhere. Its dedication to the preservation of colonial Dutch social history is truly impressive, plus the lighthouses give it an enchanting feel. This is an ideal first date option that makes for a memorable evening.

9. New Castle Court House Museum, New Castle, DE

The amazing history of the Underground Railroad awaits museum goers in this iconic location that was one of the first colonial courthouses ever constructed. This museum takes sightseers on a journey through one of the most celebrated escape stories in history and brings them through the social structures that brought forth the foundation of today’s legal system. This museum is both historically rich and thought provoking. Its sculptures and decorative arts are truly exquisite as well.

10. Johnson Victrola Museum, Dover, DE

Who would have guessed that sound could look so good when placed on display? Founders of the Johnson Victrola Museum centered the entire theme of this unique, and at times, beautifully bizarre museum, on the look of sound. The result is a visual timeline of sound waves that is truly music to the eyes. Museum goers can gather around authentic talking machines, phonographs and other vibrantly colored and masterfully crafted sound equipment curated from the early 1900s. As a bonus, they can also enjoy free parking, free admission, wheelchair friendly amenities and more. If you’re seeking an odd chord in the way of museums, you’re guaranteed to strike it in Dover.

Delaware continues to be a leading state in both collecting and creating history. Be on the lookout for new exhibitions, art installations and interactive tour worthy facilities popping up in and near the region.

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866 North DuPont Highway, Dover, DE
For the child who believes milk comes from the grocery store instead of a cow, for the woman who remembers using a cornsheller on her grandmother's... Read More
406 Federal Street, Dover, DE
Mission and VisionThe Biggs Museum of American Art is dedicated to developing awareness, understanding, and appreciation of fine and decorative art... Read More
6362 Bay Road, Frederica, DE
Chapel was built in 1780, on land donated by Philip Barratt, a prominent political figure in Kent County, Delaware. Barratt, who had recently becom... Read More
1355 South Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, DE
Mission:"The Iron Hill Museum is the primary resource for the study of human/natural history of the Iron Hill Area.  Its programs, collections... Read More
2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE
Mission Statement: The Delaware Art Museum connects people to art, offering an inclusive and essential community resource that through its collect... Read More
4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE
DMNH's Mission: To excite & inform people about the natural world through exploration & discovery. DMNH's Vision: One where all parents an... Read More
30 North College Avenue, Newark, DE
Mission: The University Museums seeks to enhance the educational and scholarly mission of the University of Delaware through the exhibition, onlin... Read More
40 East Third Street, New Castle, DE
About Us Old Library Museum, the New Castle Historical Society's space for changing exhibits, where the charm of this building will stir your imagi... Read More
4651 Washington St. Extension, Wilmington, DE
About Us In the Rockwood Museum you will find the rooms restored to the way they looked in 1895, the Gilded Age of the Victorian Era. The Museum re... Read More
708 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island, DE
About Us Discoveries from the Sea Shipwreck Museum was founded with the goal of recovering and preserving our maritime heritage. The shipwreck mu... Read More
21179 College Drive, Georgetown, DE
History: Experience the excitement of treasure hunting in the waters of the Atlantic; step back in time to the era of exploration when Spain ruled ... Read More
102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE
About Us The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state's first European settlement, Swanendael, establ... Read More
4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE
The Delaware History Museum, located in a renovated art-deco Woolworth store, features three galleries of changing interactive exhibits on Delaware... Read More
510 South Bedford Street, Georgetown, DE
About Us:There are many historic buildings on the museum grounds such as the Ellis School, a one room school house built in 1833. There are two lar... Read More
200 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, DE
Mission Statement: At Hagley, we invite people of all ages to investigate and experience the unfolding history of American business, technology, an... Read More
25 The Green, Dover, DE
About Us:The First Floor of the Old State House features an 18th century-style courtroom while the second floor features the former chambers of the... Read More
340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, DE
Welcome to the home of John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, signer of the Constitution, and "Penman of the Revolution.... Read More
211 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE
Welcome to the New Castle Court House, Delaware's first court and capital. Visit this historic structure, located in the heart of historic New Cast... Read More
4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE
Mission: To excite and inform people about the natural world through exploration and discovery.Vision: One where all parents and teachers in the re... Read More
1425 North DuPont Highway, Dover, DE
The Delaware State Police Museum was built for and dedicated to the preservation of the proud history of the Delaware State Police. This history in... Read More
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