With the approaching centennial anniversary of the Delaware Art Museum in 2011, Dr. Margaretta Frederick has been named chief curator, a position that has been vacant since 2002.
The Delaware Art Museum opened in 1912 in order to honor local artist Howard Pyle. When Pyle died in 1911, a group of his friends, calling themselves the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts, purchased 100 of his works, and the museum was born.
The museum is most famous for its collection of Pre-Raphaelite works, a tradition focusing on techniques “before Raphael,” and it boasts the largest collection outside of Great Britain. It also houses a large collection of contemporary art, as well as moving exhibits.
“We had a small curatorial staff, so there was no need to fill the position,” Molly Keresztury, the director of Marketing and Public Relations, said about why the position had been vacant for so long.
However, in order to usher in the centennial celebration, the museum needed a strong curator and leader.
“Margaretta was the right person for the job,” Keresztury added.
Frederick, a lifelong Delaware resident, began her career at the Delaware Art Museum after college. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware and her master’s and doctoral degrees at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Her doctoral field of specialization is British Art and Art Patronage.
She achieved full curatorship in 1997 after completing her doctorate and is the curator of the Samuel and Mary F. Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art. Frederick has also worked at the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“Margaretta has a keen mind, great depth of knowledge, and acute dedication to the success of the museum,” said Danielle Rice, the museum’s executive director. “I am really looking forward to her intellectual leadership and to working more closely with her on a broad range of museum projects.”
“We want to celebrate the past, present, and future of the museum,” Keresztury said.
The celebration inaugurates with a retrospective collection, Howard Pyle: American Master Rediscovered.
“We will be thinking about [Pyle] in a different way,” Frederick said. “Pyle was very aware of both European and American traditions at the time, and we will be comparing his works with the techniques that he was utilizing.”
The museum will then display a large retrospective of the works of local artist Mary Page Evans. A 100 Works for 100 Years exhibit, which will feature works that have been donated, collected, and promised for the future, will follow. The celebration will continue with a juried exhibition of local artwork.
“We used to do this every two years, so this is a way of revisiting this tradition,” Frederick said. “We want to showcase the wealth of artistic talent in the community and region.”
The anniversary festivities will conclude with an exhibition of artwork revisiting Pyle’s traditions.
Visitors can also enjoy the outdoor Copeland Sculpture Garden and Luminaria Labyrinth walk, as well as art classes for all ages, free family days, and various lectures and programs.
“I want to let everyone know about the amazing resource that they have right here in Wilmington,” Frederick said. “Both the collection of works, and the extremely knowledgeable curatorial staff.”