They decided to make a society to remember him. The museum's charter stated its purpose as to promote the knowledge and enjoyment of and cultivation in the fine arts in the State of Delaware. Until 1922, the society didn't have a true home. It moved around and members kept their materials in an office. Eventually, the art collection grew to be too large and the society rented out three rooms in the Wilmington Library.
In 1931, the estate of Samuel Bancroft contacted the Wilmington Society for the Fine Arts with an offer to donate a collection of Pre-Raphaelite works along with 11 acres of land to house a museum for the collection. Bancroft acquired the collection beginning in the 1890s and his collection is the largest and most important collection of British Pre-Raphaelite art and manuscript materials in the United States. Eventually, the society used this collection as the foundation to form the Delaware Art Center which opened in 1938 (the name changed to its current one by the 1960s).
Since that time, the museum has seen many collections come and go, attracting some of the most famous names in art. The museum has expanded several times, including the most recent expansion in 2005 where it opened a large outdoor space with gardens.