Looting and fires following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., prompted a request for the National Guard to restore peace in Wilmington, Delaware. Although other American cities experienced the same level of uprising after April 4, 1968, the National Guard occupation in Wilmington spanned a staggering nine and a half months. This extensive patrol drastically changed Delaware's largest city from the inside out. Residents went about their days and nights watched, restricted, angry, and fearful. Numerous businesses along Market Street-Wilmington's main thoroughfare-closed and many families moved out of city neighborhoods.
Throughout the summer, the Delaware Art Museum
continues to reflect on the aftermath of these events with three complementary exhibitions examining the local and national struggle for equality. The exhibitions Danny Lyon: Memories of a Southern Civil Rights Movement and The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Drawings by Harvey Dinnerstein and Burton Silverman are on view now through September 9, 2018.
"From a curator's perspective, our summer exhibitions are exciting because we're really throwing the whole exhibition playbook at this project," says Heather Campbell Coyle, Chief Curator and Curator of American Art at the Delaware Art Museum. "We've created an exhibition from our collection; incorporated a traveling show; and commissioned a contemporary artist to respond to images and events from our community." The result is a strikingly nuanced exhibition trio with programming which offers ideas for specific local social action, opportunities for an in-depth look the artistic styles represented, and multiple vehicles through which residents can share their stories and recollections.
"Our community has been eager to engage in these healing conversations about our challenging past," says Sam Sweet, Executive Director and CEO, "The Delaware Art Museum is thrilled that these exhibitions-in the works since 2016-have been the catalyst for meaningful dialogue and civic action as Delaware remembers Wilmington 1968." More information about related exhibitions, performances, events, and community forums, classes, and workshops happening throughout the community can be found on Wilmington1968.org, a website spearheaded by the Museum in partnership with 20 Wilmington-area civic, religious, and cultural organizations to share historical information about the local civil rights movement.