When Frank Wheaton, Jr. first visited the Corning Museum of Glass in the early 1960's, it caught his ire. On display were many marvelous works of glass—treasures forged of sand, wood, soda ash, and silica that represented the dawning of the American glass industry. Frank's problem? Those shiny, fragile masterpieces were being exhibited in New York and not where they were birthed: New Jersey.
As the grandson of glass magnate Dr. Theodore Corson Wheaton—whose glass pharmaceutical bottles were instrumental in giving rise to the Millville glass monarchy of Wheaton USA—Frank claimed his birthright and created the WheatonArts and Cultural Center. Sprawling across 65 wooded acres, WheatonArts features a fully functioning glass studio with daily demonstrations of glassblowing wizardry; artist studios where craftsmen branch out into pottery and woodworking. The jewel of the WheatonArts retreat, and the fulfillment of Frank Wheaton's dream to usurp New York, is the [Museum of American Glass(http://www.wheatonarts.org/museumamericanglass). The magnum opus of luminescence charters the history of the medium from its brittle infancy to its latest mutations. The circulating collection typically includes up to 7,000 objects, ranging from early American bottles and mason jars, clever Art Nouveau creations, and stunning works from Dale Chihuly and other contemporary glass-working artists.
It's a child's paradise in the Garden State Discovery Museum, where pint-size patrons can climb up rock walls, cavort with wildlife, and imagine themselves as vets, doctors, and news anchors in hands-on exhibits. Red-eared turtles lounge in the wildlife area, inviting kids to gaze upon their slimy shells, and science displays teach guests about gravity, lava, and light.
The Biggs Museum of American Art showcases late founder Sewell C. Biggs's impressive collection that focuses on the evolution of American and especially Mid-Atlantic art from the 18th century up to the present. Steal some time inside the museum's 18 intimate galleries and peruse the permanent collection’s early American furniture, regional silver, and sculptures needled by the famously opposable-thumbed Hiram Powers. Although admission is free, the Biggs Museum fills a bustling calendar with programs such as art classes and kids’ activities that members can enjoy at a discount, along with events such as the annual member appreciation breakfast. With a rotating cast of exhibitions, current offerings include the Award Winners XI exhibition running through October 23, 2011, which displays works by the Individual Artist fellows of the Delaware Division of the Arts. The upcoming Delaware By Hand: Masters Competition exhibition, on display from November 4, 2011 to February 19, 2012, features contemporary work chosen by a panel of judges and presented in tandem with an array of public programs, art sales, and grassroots movements to line public spaces with paint-spewing fire hydrants.