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The Biggs Museum of American Art is dedicated to developing an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the fine and decorative arts and their impact on our culture. The Biggs also strives to enrich our cultural lives by collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting the fine and decorative arts for a diverse audience.
The Biggs Museum, located in the heart of historic downtown Dover, opened its doors in 1993. Founder Sewell C. Biggs, a Delaware native, amassed the core of the Museum's art and antiques over a 60-year period, creating a focused art historical interpretation of the region. The collection of nearly 1,800 objects is the only one in Delaware to provide a full range of fine and decorative arts, reflecting the State of Delaware, the Delmarva Peninsula, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Today, the museum's 16 galleries display a careful balance of furniture, paintings, silver, glass, ceramics, and textiles in a timeline presentation from 1700 to the present. The permanent collection includes the only comprehensive representational American paintings collection on the peninsula, with highlights by the Peale family, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole, Albert Bierdstadt, and Childe Hassam, along with modern images by local talents like Frank E. Schoonover, Ethel P.B. Leach, Howard Pyle, and Edward Grant. Additionally, there are many examples of furniture by noted Early American cabinetmakers such as the Janviers of Odessa, Delaware, and William Savery of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In fact, many of the artists featured in the Biggs collection also are represented in the collections of larger, world-class museums. At the Biggs, the display of the permanent collection is complemented by an ambitious schedule of changing exhibitions, noteworthy publications, and a host of related programming. Overall, with a mission to present its collection "for the education, entertainment, and inspiration of a wide public," the Biggs Museum offers an effective venue for enjoying and learning about the arts. Serving families, community groups, senior citizens, students, scholars, artists, and the public at large, the museum's educational and public programs are designed to enhance exhibition interpretation, broaden the visitor's experience, and attract new and repeat audiences. Ongoing and special activities include children's programs; school programs; lectures; workshops; public programming; exhibition-related events; demonstrations; and guided and self-guided tours. In addition, the Biggs partners with a myriad of arts and non-arts organizations to further its artistic mission.
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