Delaware museums bloom with exhibits starting May 1

Dover Days Festival May 2-4
March 31, 2014
Beaded purse, c. 1900–1910. The purse will be featured in the Simple Pleasures: Picnic, Play and Dance display at The Old State House. SOURCE COLLECTIONS OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE

The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will offer 19 special programs during May. Except where noted, all programs are free and open to the public.

Highlights of the month include a host of activities held in conjunction with the 81st Annual Dover Days Festival May 2-4 including programs on fashion in the "Downton Abbey" era; women’s history; Nipper, the dog of “His Master’s Voice" fame; the Underground Railroad; Prohibition; and 18th century life.

Two exhibits will open Thursday, May 1, which give a look at fashions in the "Downton Abbey" era: Dress for Success: The Edwardian Gentlemen’s Wardrobe and Accessories displays objects of adornment, fashion and accessories for male grooming from the time period depicted in the popular television series. The exhibit takes place at Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover. The exhibit continues 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., May 2 and 3 with limited visitation hours on other dates; call 302-739-9194 before planning a visit.

The Simple Pleasures: Picnic, Play and Dance exhibit shows original Edwardian and Roaring '20s fashions that reflect the spirit of the liberated “modern” woman as depicted in the same era. This collection will be shown at The Old State House, 25 The Green in Dover from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., May 2; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., May 3; and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., May 4. Call 302-744-5055 for additional dates and times.

May 2 also offers A Taste of Jazz: From the Beginning. Guided tours explore the sounds of the Jazz Age and the role played by Delaware’s native son E.R. Johnson in the history of recorded jazz, accompanied by early jazz recordings played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. The exhibit will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover.

Also May 2 as part of the Dover Days celebration, Dr. Daisy Century of the American Historical Theater will present “Madame C.J. Walker, Millionairess,“ a portrayal of the 19th century entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of the Walker Company, which specialized in hair-care products for African-Americans. The event takes place at The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover with programs at 6 and 8 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

On Sunday, May 4 in “Alice Roosevelt’s Maid,” Kim Hanley of the American Historical Theatre portrays Peggy, maid of Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice. The program provides audiences with an up-close look at the clothing and personal items of wealthy women during the Gilded Age. Programs will be presented at 1 and 3 p.m. at The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Museum open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Activities held in celebration of Delaware Archaeology Month include the seventh annual symposium on the early Colonial archaeology of the Delaware Valley at the New Castle Court House Museum on May 10 and maritime-archaeology programs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes Saturday, May 24. The day includes maritime-themed activities, games, displays by local organizations and more. Call 302-645-1148 for more information

For complete information about all programs at Delaware's museums during May, call 302-744-5055.

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