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Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Engagement and Collections Team, the Collections Program preserves, and holds in public trust, a record of Delaware’s heritage by acquiring objects made in the First State or used by Delawareans throughout history.
The primary function of the program is stewardship of the State of Delaware’s collection of archaeological artifacts, museum objects, works of art, library and archival materials, and oral histories which are utilized in developing exhibits and educational programs that illuminate the state’s historical and cultural legacies for the benefit of present and future generations.
The State’s Archaeological Collection includes more than 4 million artifacts that document Native-American cultures prior to European contact as well as post-contact societies.
Artifacts in the collection from Native-American archaeological sites in Delaware include cultural materials dating from the Late Ice Age (10,000 B.C.) to European contact. Examples of artifacts recovered as a product of nearly a century of archaeological investigations include projectile points, ceramics, and stone and bone tools.
Post-contact artifacts in the Archaeological Collection document Delaware’s cultures and societies from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Artifacts include textiles, metals, ceramics, glass, buttons, building material, leather and ecological resources.
The State’s Historic Collection includes nearly 90,000 items dating from the Colonial period to the present. The collection contains furniture; clothing and accessories; long arms and edged weapons; ceramic, glass and silver objects; textiles; works of art; printed materials and ephemera; photography; and architectural features. the State Portrait Collection and the phonograph and recorded-sound collection associated with the Johnson Victrola Museum are special acquisitions.
Items from the collections are featured prominently in division-sponsored exhibits at the State’s museums and historic sites. Due to the large number and fragility of some of the items, as well as the need for many of them to be kept in environmentally controlled conditions, it is impossible for all the materials to be formally shown at one time. Locations where items from the collections are currently on display include: