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New donation to Delaware Art Museum may be its biggest ever

Delaware Art Museum

Gerret and Tatiana Copeland are pledging $15 million to the Delaware Art Museum.

Gerret Copeland’s Grandmother founded the Delaware Art Museum, and he is current chairman of its board.

The gift is the largest donation to the museum in the past 30 years and is suspected to be the largest in its history.

Museum CEO Sam Sweet says it comes at a time when the museum has a clear plan to define its cultural and civic role in the Wilmington community.

“While the collections—which are world class here—will always be the core of what we’re about. We also realize we need to turn outwards toward the community and reconnect with them,” said Sweet.

Sweet says the money will be used to strengthen the museum’s endowment and expand programming both at the museum and other venues in the area.

“I think it speaks to the Copelands’ own commitment to being leaders in helping to bring Wilmington back, and to make Delaware a really great state,” said Sweet.

The Delaware Art Museum was forced to sell part of its collection back in 2014 to cover a $20 million debt created by a 2005 renovation.  That sale resulted in sanctions from the Association of Art Museum Directors and American Alliance of Museums. The museum is now debt free.

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.