Delaware Museum of Natural History

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Delaware Museum of Natural History
Delaware Museum of Natural History.png
Museum in 2010
Delaware Museum of Natural History is located in Delaware
Delaware Museum of Natural History
Location in Delaware
Established1957 (open to public May 13, 1972)
Location4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 19807 USA
Coordinates39°47′54″N 75°36′35″W / 39.798307°N 75.609804°W / 39.798307; -75.609804
TypeNatural history
VisitorsOver 65,000[1]
Public transit accessBus transport DART First State bus: 52

The Delaware Museum of Natural History was founded in 1957 by John Eleuthere du Pont near Greenville, Delaware; it opened in 1972 on a site near Winterthur, Delaware. It is known for its extensive collections of seashells, birds, and bird eggs. The latter is the second largest collection in North America. It is the oldest natural history museum in Delaware.


The museum's core collection was started in childhood by the naturalist, philanthropist and high-profile convicted murderer [2][3][4] John E. ("Golden Eagle") du Pont. Du Pont built a personal collection of seashells, birds and bird eggs. Even before getting a doctorate in natural science in 1965 and writing several books on birds, he became interested in developing a natural history museum. During and after graduate school, DuPont took part in several scientific expeditions to the South Pacific and the Philippines, and is credited with the discovery of two dozen subspecies of birds.

At his request, his uncle Henry Francis du Pont provided land across from the Winterthur estate in the Brandywine Valley of Delaware for the museum. The museum opening in 1972 was attended by 200 duPont family members, and representatives of other Northeastern natural history museums.[5] It was the first major museum of natural history opened since 1910.[6]

The museum originally was based on duPont's collection of 1,000,000 sea shells and 100,000 bird eggs. The museum emphasizes the ecology of birds and sea life. In early studies, these were used by scientists to measure pesticide contamination of wild species.[6] DMNH is ranked in the top fifteen in the United States for its collections of mollusks and birds, with the second largest collection of birds' eggs in North America.[7]

The museum had a major expansion in 2005 to add educational and exhibit space. It has been expanded to include exhibits on dinosaurs, mammals, and Charles Darwin.[8]


  1. ^ "About Us". Delaware Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Janson, Donald (May 13, 1972). "DuPonts Toast a New Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  6. ^ a b Janson, Donald (May 7, 1972). "New Museum in Delaware Stresses Ecology of Birds and Sea Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  7. ^ "Collections and Research", Delaware Museum of Natural History
  8. ^ "Permanent Exhibits". Delaware Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2009-07-12.

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