New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer announced that Ryan Grover has been named director of New Castle County’s Rockwood Museum and Park. Grover has been a curator at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover for the past 18 years. Grover built his career hosting over 100 feature exhibitions on regional and national artists, publishing more than a dozen exhibition catalogues; managing capital improvement projects; crafting original projects with hundreds of regional artists; expanding representation to artistic projects with the African American, Latin American and Lenape populations of Delaware and doubling the size of the Biggs’ permanent collection.
In his first few months in the new position, Grover has been working hard to listen to all the talented voices that have been preserving Rockwood for decades. “I am amazed by the dedication of this staff. The horticulturalist, the collections specialist and many of the volunteers have been immersed in Rockwood for over twenty years,” said Grover. “The institutional knowledge this staff holds is this treasure house’s most valuable asset. They are an important counterpoint to the strength of New Castle County’s public appeal hosting several festivals in Rockwood’s park every year.” Grover looks forward to conducting broad surveys of community planning to develop strategic goals that will help shape the future of Rockwood’s mission. “It is important to me that Rockwood would reflect the diversity of its neighbors in a big way” says Ryan “and it’s important that this glorious fantasy of a house will remain relevant.”
Ryan Grover looks forward to building Rockwood’s feature exhibitions program, creating opportunities for contemporary artists throughout the entire park, public events and concerts, building community partnerships and exploring Rockwood’s unique and often hilarious history of Victorian excess and cultural accumulation.
Rockwood is among Delaware’s earliest country estates. It is an 1850s Gothic Revival mansion built with every possible modern amenity such as gas lighting, indoor plumbing and central heating. The house was deliberately set inside an idealized garden landscape. Grover recounts that “the house was built to blur the line between interior comfort and the natural world outside. The owner’s interest in horticulture can be seen in the vast picture windows along the south façade, the copious gardens surrounding the house and what has been described as the oldest attached conservatory still in use in the entire country.” Once surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmlands, Rockwood and its heritage garden are now surrounded by nearly 70 extra acres of park space. The museum is a treasure house of 120 years of multi-generational collecting composed of paintings, furniture, lighting fixtures, clothing and sumptuous housewares.
The mission of the site - owned, maintained and operated by New Castle County - is to serve residents and visitors through education and recreation, while preserving and maintaining the historic 19th Century mansion, its collections and grounds. The county advances that mission by presenting an ongoing variety of youth- and family-friendly public programming in the historic buildings and on the grounds, as well as hosting signature annual events and offering facility rental. The county is committed to past owners’ intention for the unique site to benefit the public.
Rockwood Park & Museum is located at 4651 Washington Street, Extension, Wilmington, DE 19802; www.rockwood.org.