“Home of the "Merman of Delaware"”
Modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, the Zwaanedael Museum commemorates the founding of Delaware's first European settlement by the Dutch in 1631, but its most popular attraction is the dried mummy of a strange creature that some say is a mermaid. The Zwaanendael Merman is an example of folk- or sailor's-art. Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs' museum curators believe that it was made in China in the mid-19th century, and is comprised of fish, hair, ivory, a shrunken monkey head, oak, stain, varnish, glass, and dye. Creations such as the Zwaanendael Merman were conceived as pranks or side show curiosities at a time when sea captains were returning from the newly opened ports of East Asia with tall tales of exotic, never-before-seen creatures, and at a time when people were trying to learn more about the science behind human origins. Other names for creatures of this sort are "Fiji Merman," "Devil Fish," and "Jenny Hanivers."
As with everything we do, we went in the off season, some time in the late fall. Very cool! Lots of old, timeless ship wreck finds and information on where each piece was found, what it was used for and what wreck it came from. Staff was very knowledgable and friendly. Probably wouldn't appeal to any one under 10, unless they're super into ship wrecks.
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- Tue - Sat: 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
- Sun: 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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