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Greenville & Hockessin Life

A new partnership with limitless possibilities

Jan 05, 2015 02:54PM ● By Kerigan Butt

Hagley Museum is now in the Smithsonian Affiliates Program, joining 190 other organizations in more than 40 states, Puerto Rico, and Panama.

(Editor's note: This article first appeared in our Spring 2014 edition.)

By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

The Hagley Museum and Library recently became the first organization in Delaware to be designated as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The relationship was formalized on June 3, when Hagley officials welcomed Harold Closter, the Director of Smithsonian Affiliations, for a press conference to announce the partnership.

“We are delighted to have been accepted into the Smithsonian Affiliations program,” said David Cole, the executive director of Hagley Museum. “Hagley is a place where people can experience the history of innovation and be inspired to innovate in their own lives. The Smithsonian offers an unmatched set of resources that we can use to fulfill our vision.”

The Smithsonian's resources, like the future possibilities of the partnership, are limitless.

“You may have heard they have a few interesting things down there,” quipped Cole, referring to the approximately 137 million or so items that are currently part of the Smithsonian's unparalleled collection.

The Smithsonian has been called the nation's attic and Closter mentioned just a few items to illustrate why the nickname fits: the original star-spangled banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that would become our national anthem, the Hope Diamond, the desk that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on, and the red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” are all protected and preserved in the safe confines of the Smithsonian.

At any one time, the 19 museums, nine research centers, and a zoo that comprise the Smithsonian only display 3 percent or 4 percent of the items in the collection. The partnership will facilitate the loan of artifacts and traveling exhibitions, and development of innovative educational programming at Hagley. The Delaware museum will in turn share items and information from its collections.

“Our partnerships are two-way streets and there are opportunities for exchanges,” Closter said, explaining that the Smithsonian Institution's collection is so varied that it touches on everything from art to science to space to history and everything in between.

“It's literally concerned with everything,” he said.

The Smithsonian Affiliations Program was founded in 1996 to increase discovery and to inspire lifelong learning in communities across the country. By collaborating with museums and educational and cultural organizations, the Smithsonian can share its artifacts and educational programs with more people. Millions of citizens have been able to experience the Smithsonian in their own communities through traveling exhibits and other Affiliate-sponsored programs. More than 8,000 Smithsonian artifacts have already been displayed at Affiliate locations, and those items represent the full range of the collection: space capsule and aircraft from the National Air and Space Museum, Abraham Lincoln's hat and Kermit the Frog from the National Museum of American History, and sculptures from the Smithsonian art museums.

Sharing knowledge is an important component of the Affiliates program. There are professional development and research opportunities for scholars, a Smithsonian Scholars in the Schools program, teacher workshops, and distance-learning programs.

For museums like Hagley, there are a number of benefits to being an affiliate. Only affiliates can use the Smithsonian Affiliations logo and incorporate the tagline “in association with the Smithsonian” in marketing materials.

Current affiliates can participate in the annual Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference in Washington D.C. and have the opportunity for more in-depth collaboration by providing a national voice in Smithsonian initiatives through programs funded by internal grant competitions.

An important aspect of the relationship is that the Smithsonian Institution has to ensure that each affiliate can take proper care of the items and will follow all protocols so that they know the items will be protected and secure.

By becoming an Affiliate, Hagley joins the ranks of 192 Smithsonian Affiliates in 45 states, Puerto Rico, and Panama.

It makes sense that the Hagley Museum would be the first Smithsonian Affiliate in Delaware. Hagley Museum was founded in 1952 and opened to the public in 1957. It features the original du Pont mills, estate, and gardens spread out over 235 acres along the Brandywine River. Exhibits and demonstrations help bring an important chapter in American history to life by showing how people who worked for the DuPont Company in the 19th century lived.

The Hagley Museum and Library has preserved the story of America's early industrial heritage by finding ways to link the past, the present, and the future. The museum has extensive archives of business documents and collections on the industry. The museum has more than 90,000 objects, including several hundred patent models that would-be patent-holders would need to submit in order to get the patent applications approved.

“There are also many exciting things in our library,” Cole said. The library houses a major research collection of manuscripts and archives, photographs, pamphlets, and books documenting the history of American business and technology.

The Hagley executive director said that extensive conversations with an administrator with the Museum of American Finance, which has and exhibit on American currency and financial institutions, helped convince him of the many benefits of being a part of the Smithsonian Affiliates program.

Cole said that the missions of Hagley Museum and the Smithsonian Institution align well together. Both use technology to expand audience access, to extend programming to communities, and to build partnerships. Hagley welcomes more than 15,000 school children each year for field trips that enhance classroom studies of the Industrial Revolution, life in the 19th century, the science of water and steam power, and the many materials manufactured by DuPont.

The Smithsonian's diversity also assures that there will be many subject areas where interests overlap.

Just one example: “We share an interest in water power,” Cole explained.

It might take two or three years before artifacts from the Smithsonian start to show up as part of a Hagley exhibit because most of the museum's exhibitions are planned so far in advance, Cole said.

“I can say that we are looking at something special with innovation,” he added.

Cole said that through the Smithsonian Affiliates Program, Hagley will also be developing collaborations within the network.

“We are delighted to be the first in Delaware to have this designation,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected].

About Hagley Museum

The Hagley, Museum (200 Hagley Road, Wilmington, Del.) allows people of all ages to investigate and experience the unfolding history of American business, technology, and innovation, and its impact on the world, from the home at the historic DuPont powder yards on the banks of the Brandywine. Admission to the entire 235-acre museum is $14 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens, $5 for children six to fourteen, and free for members and children five and under. For more information, call 302- 658-2400 weekdays or visit

About Smithsonian Affiliations

Smithsonian Affiliations, an initiative that was established in 1996, is a national outreach program which develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums and educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian artifacts, scholars, educational programs, and professional development opportunities. More information about the Smithsonian Affiliations program is available at

Milestones in Hagley Museum’s history

November 1952: The Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation, a non-profit, educational corporation received its charter from the State of Delaware.

May 1957: Hagley Museum was dedicated with the opening of the Henry Clay Mill building.

1961: The Longwood Library, founded in 1953 by Pierre S. du Pont, merged with Hagley Museum and opened at the site of the original DuPont Companys powder works at Hagley.

1962: A second exhibition building, the Millwright Shop, opened with working models of the powder-making process.

1964: Eleutherian Mills, the du Pont familys ancestral home, was opened to the public.

1966: Designation of museum property as a National Historic Landmark.

1969: Restoration of the first DuPont Company Office was completed.

1971: Restoration of the E. I. du Pont Garden began.

1982: Workers' Hill opened. First fireworks show produced for Hagley members in honor of the museums 25th anniversary.  The annual fireworks continues on two weekends in June.

1984:  Hagley Museum and Library was designated as the official name of the institution. (Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation continues as the legal corporation name of the organization.)

1996: Hagleys first car show, 100 Years of Cars, held to honor 100 years of Americas automotive heritage. The annual car show continues on the third Saturday in September.

1999: The kitchen in Hagleys Eleutherian Mills opens to visitors.

2002: Two new exhibits, DuPont Science and “Discovery and DuPont: The Explosives Era,” open at Hagley in honor of the DuPont Companys 200th anniversary.

2007:  Accessible entrance to Visitor Center welcomes visitors to the museums 50th anniversary exhibit, “Hagley at Fifty: Exploding with History.”

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