1995: Introducing the Delaware History Museum

The New Delaware History Museum on Market Street in 1995

On October 28, 1994, the Society was finally able to celebrate the successful conclusion to a year-long construction saga with the grand opening of its new Delaware History Museum in the old Woolworth’s store building at 504 North Market Street. The project completely transformed the building, re-creating the original Art Deco look of the Woolworth’s exterior and providing 23,000 square feet of new collections storage and programming space, in addition to new exhibit gallery space.

After the ribbons had been cut and the celebrations had ended, the Society then had to begin the real work of creating new displays and programs for its now-more-numerous public spaces. The inaugural exhibit in the new Delaware History Museum would celebrate the 50th Anniversary of World War II. Entitled “Delaware Goes to War,” the exhibit looked at Delaware’s contributions to the war on both the home front and abroad. This exhibit even made an appearance in an A&E cable network program filmed in May called “Donald Duck Goes to War.”

The year 1995 was also a busy year for other Society programs and exhibits in the new museum. The Society also opened “A Woman’s Place: Change and Opportunity in Delaware” to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. This exhibit was accompanied by an original musical entitled “First Vote” by Scott Mason and Joyce Hill Stoner. This would also be a year where the Society catered to sports fans when it partnered with the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame to bring “Great Athletes and Their Memorabilia” to the museum in November. The Christmas season closed the year with a display of dollhouses.

Luckily, all of this work was not going unnoticed because the Society also collected several prestigious awards during the year. The Delaware History Museum project won an award for historic preservation from the New Castle County Review Board, two tourism awards from the governor’s office, an award for its World War II exhibit, and an award of merit for programming. In addition, the History Museum’s project architect, Eldon Homsey, won a design award for his work from the Delaware Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

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