102 Kings Highway
Lewes, DE 19958
Open: Sunday-Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 10:00am-4:15pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Zwaanendael Museum at 102 Kings Highway
The Zwaanendael Museum was inspired by the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands and commemorates the founding of Delaware’s first European settlement by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631. It’s programs showcase how the Lewes area’s Dutch and maritime histories unite.
The museum has limited hours but is free to the public.
The inside of the museum explains the history of Lewes starting with the Dutch Colony. The growth of the Colony, the shipping industry and the shipwrecks off the coast line. There are many artifacts that the museum has either found or been donated to over the years. There is another display of the railroad industry and its growth in Lewes which lead to it becoming a seaside resort in the later half of the 19th century. The museum was created to honor the 300th Anniversary of the Dutch settlement of Zwaanendael. The museum represents the history of Sussex County in Delaware (Wiki).
The first floor gallery is filled with the history of the Railroads and the Shipping industry
The first floor galleries contain many artifacts that were recovered from the sea or donations that were made to the museum. This tells the story of early Lewes, DE. This gives a visitor a grasp of the importance of Lewes as a shipping port in the early days of the colonies. As the railroads replaced the shipping industry, you begin to see the growth and importance of Lewes as a trading port.
On the second floor there is a display on the Royal family of the Netherlands, a large display of ceramic Delftware and there is even the body of a mermaid. There were also displays of the local farming industry and the commercialization of the produce of the area.
The history of the Railroad industry in Lewes brought this sleepy farming community residents from far away that turned it into a resort town and a destination for summer tourism
The Railroad industry continued to grow and become more prosperous in Lewes
The railroads also help moved farming products out of the area and into urban markets
Lewes was also a big area for shipping with a busy port especially during the Revolutionary War.
The tale of the DeBraak, one of the shipping vessels of the war years
Life on the shipping vessels
Some of the recovered artifacts from shipwrecks off the coast of Lewes
The tales of the ship “DeBraak” and its story
The ship the “DeBraak”
The second floor of the museum has interesting displays on the aspects of life in Lewes and the influence of the Dutch on the community. It also offers many novelties such as a mermaid.
Display of the packing crates on the second floor
How items were shipped in the early days of the shipping industry
The Zwaanendael Mermaid is the most unique item in the collection. It makes you think it is real.
The Zwaanendael Mermaid
The Delftware collection
The history of Delftware
The lighthouses of Delaware
Display of the items that were canned in Lewes that were part of the growth of the farming industry in Lewes
The entrance of the Zwaanendael Museum in the winter months