Hagley Museum, founded in 1957, comprises the former industrial site of the original black powder works of the DuPont Company founded in Delaware in 1802 and powered by the natural resources that surrounded it. The museum, which is located in Wilmington, DE is a nonprofit museum and library that celebrates the history of American enterprise.
Situated on 235 acres of wooded rolling hills along the Brandywine River, hundreds of stone remnants of the black powder industry dot the grounds. In addition, dozens of restored buildings associated with the business, and the first du Pont family home built in America form the core of the museum. Here, for more than 200 years, the DuPont Company and family experimented, innovated, and pursued the American Dream.
What to Expect at the Hagley Museum
Hagley Museum details the history of the du Pont Gun Powder operation along Brandywine Creek in the 1700-1800s. Its informative museum and beautiful grounds, which include a machine shop, gun powder demonstration, the foreman’s house and one-room school house, make this an excellent choice for a daytrip!
Originally known as Eleutherian Mills, Eleuthere Irenee du Pont founded his business in 1802. The du Pont family, including Eleuthere and his sons E. I. and Alfred, lived in the mills until 1831. The mansion is known as Eleutherian Mills.
In fact, at Hagley Museum, we learned more about the history of the du Ponts than in any of the other sites we have been to. During your visit, you can go on several tours, including a house tour, the millwright shop tour and the powder mill tour.
Loving industrial history as I do, the millwright shop tour was the highlight. We got to open the sluice from the mill race and watched the turbine start moving. This turbine powers the millwright shop — a marvelous example of 19th century engineering. The volunteer docent demonstrated how different machines were switched on or off, all before the era of electricity.
The library at Hagley focuses on the history of business and technology in the United States. The library’s collections include more than 600,000 books, magazines, photographs, manuscripts, and archives. The museum and library host a variety of educational programs, including lectures, seminars, and workshops, as well as other special events, such as holiday celebrations, concerts, and festivals.
Know Before You Go
Between the house tour, museums and specialized tours such as the Millwright Shop Tour and the Powder Mill Tour, you can easily spend all day at the Hagley, although most visitors spend between two and three hours exploring the grounds and exhibits. When you arrive at the museum, check in with the Visitor Services staff to help plan how to get the most out of your day. As of September 2022, there are no restaurants or cafes onsite, so consider bringing a picnic as there are multiple places to eat a lunch.
Shuttles carry you between the visitors center, the Millwright Shop Tour, the house and the Powder Mill. The exhibits are spread out across this sprawling museum. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.
Getting there: 200 Hagley Creek Rd, Wilmington, DE
Hours: open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Website: museum website
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