Original Emancipation Proclamation Comes to Wilmington
Press Release · Monday, September 27, 2004

Washington, DC

From September 30 through October 3, visitors to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the original, signed Emancipation Proclamation in their own backyard. This four-day display marks the first time in more than 55 years that the Emancipation Proclamation has been on view in Delaware and the surrounding region (including Philadelphia).

The Emancipation Proclamation is just one highlight of the larger exhibition "American Originals: Treasures from the National Archives," now on display at the Delaware Art Museum at the Bank One Center on the Riverfront through October 17. Wilmington is the last stop for "American Originals," which is wrapping up a three-year, nine-city tour. "American Originals" showcases 20 original documents from the holdings of the National Archives. The fragile condition of the Emancipation Proclamation limits the time it can be on display.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the Civil War, formally proclaiming the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt. Although the document did not end slavery, it added moral force to the Union cause and was a significant milestone leading to the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865, formally outlawing slavery throughout the nation.

"American Originals" was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. and The Foundation for the National Archives. In Delaware, the exhibition is co-sponsored by the Delaware Department of State, the Delaware Public Archives, the Riverfront Development Corporation and the Delaware Art Museum.

During the run of "American Originals" the Delaware Art Museum is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (last entry at 7 p.m.); and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. (last entry at 4 p.m.) Admission: $7 for adults; $5 for senior citizens (60 and over); $2.50 for students; free to registered school groups and children 6 and under. During the Delaware Art Museum's expansion at 2301 Kentmere Parkway, the collection and Museum activities are housed at the Bank One Center on the Riverfront, 800 South Madison St., Wilmington, DE, 19801. For more information call 302-571-9590 or visit

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For information on the traveling exhibition, contact Stephanie Clemson at 847-570-0943 or 301-837-1700, or

For information about the exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum, contact Lora Englehart at 302-571-9590 or


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