Tech Check: The Cons of “Staying Connected”

What texting, emailing and social media are doing to your health—and how to prevent it.


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Charged and ready to face the world. That may not sound like you in the morning. However, if you are like most Delawareans, it describes perfectly the smartphone you have in your pocket as you head out the door. For you, going anywhere without your smartphone or a tablet may be a thought too foreign to comprehend.

Here in is the dilemma. Staying connected to friends, family and work is so simple these days thanks to social media, texting, emailing and devices that travel with us anywhere. Loved ones, coworkers and business associates are accessible when wanted and needed. And that, of course, makes us accessible to them. This accessibility comes at a price.

The questions you should ask yourself are: Just how high of a price am I paying for that accessibility, and is it worth it to me?

Those personal and quite subjective questions are ones only you can answer. While uncovering those answers, know that you are not alone in your attachment to technology. According to a 2012 study conducted by Leslie Perlow, Ph.D., the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School, 51 percent of managers and professionals use their wireless devices to continually check in with work while on vacation. Does that mean that the vacation we are taking to rest and recharge can’t effectively fulfill its duties? Absolutely.

The constant ding, bell or chime from an email, text or voicemail distracts us from the task at hand. It doesn’t matter if we are relaxing with a book on the beach or drafting a presentation for work. When technology interferes, it doesn’t discriminate.

Furthermore, even without making a sound, technology can influence a quiet moment. A nearby smartphone or tablet has us always at the ready for the next email from our boss, text from our teenager, or call from our spouse, doctor or contractor. Along with our devices, we are always “on.”

The constant use and presence of technology prevents us from settling our minds, reflecting, thinking and being creative, says Michael Peterson, Ed.D., a professor at the University of Delaware and chairman of the university’s department of behavioral health and nutrition. Peterson, who also leads a health promotion campaign, getupanddosomething.org, adds that people can’t get away from work today. “As work is coming home with us, the line between our private time and our work time is blending,” he says.

Consider the gentleman at his son’s soccer game who responds to an email from his boss, or the wife who checks her Facebook page while riding in the car with her spouse. Although they are likely doing these things simply out of habit, these people are failing to engage in the moment. They are failing to completely enjoy nature, failing to communicate, and failing to take care of their own health and well-being.

Minutes spent outside (perhaps at that soccer game) speaking on a cell phone would be better spent simply breathing in the fresh air, says Mike Considine, Psy.D., a therapist at Mid-Atlantic Behavioral Health in Newark. “No matter what the conversation, that time on the phone likely carries some sort of underlying tension. Ending that call allows the body to release tension and stress.”

Wendy Danner types a message while hitting full stride at the Central YMCA in Wilmington.

Furthermore, he adds, it means giving nature the opportunity to calm us. As some of nature’s critical roles are to reduce stress and boost our outlook on life, experiencing it has been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Long-term and often-cited research by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, authors of “The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective,” indicates that nature improves interest and concentration while reducing fatigue and the stress of daily life.

As many are well aware, chronic stress can lead to long-term health issues. And, says Dr. Stephen Kushner, D.O., president of the Medical Society of Delaware, chronic stress carries with it the potential for depression. A family physician at Hockessin Family Medicine and preceptor to the department of family and community medicine at Christiana Care Health System, Kushner finds that an overabundance of technology in a person’s life can lead to chronic stress, mental health issues and even sleep disorders.

In fact, Kushner points to recent research by the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that indicates that the use of backlit devices, such as tablets, smartphones and computers, for the two hours prior to bedtime can dramatically reduce quality of sleep. According to the study, melatonin, a natural hormone required for sleep, is reduced by 22 percent if a person’s nighttime routine includes online pastimes such as surfing the Internet or updating a Twitter account.

Furthermore, when your night extends into the wee hours thanks to your tablet or other devices, your morning is sure to be dreary. “If you don’t get as much sleep as your body needs,” Kushner notes, “you can find yourself fatigued, stressed and irritable the following day.”

Your mind is not the only thing that needs a break from the constant use of technology. Hands, backs, necks, shoulders and eyes are also victims of constant texting, emailing and Googling. “If we don’t take a break from these things,” Kushner says, “they can lead to inflammation of the tendons in the hands, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow, as well as stress tension in the muscles. Vision problems can also arise, which can lead to migraine headaches.”

Is that third game of Words with Friends really worth it?

Even if you don’t answer no, your friends and family members might. The reason is simple: interpersonal relationships often suffer when technology becomes too involved. Considine refers to it as emotional disconnect. When he is helping couples bridge the gap between them, the issue of technology usage often arises. “Typically, the use of technology has become an unconscious habit. And it is a symptom of an overall disconnect within the relationship,” Considine says.

Mark Haislett rides the Y’s Express Bike.

Establishing guidelines for technology use can help rebuild interpersonal relationships and restore our overall well-being. If one or both people involved in a relationship are uncomfortable with how much a mobile device or computer enters into it, the couple may want to agree upon some parameters. “These rules can include things such as not bringing cell phones to restaurants or only bringing one phone for use in an emergency,” Considine says. “Some couples agree to shut off their phones during dinner time or to take a day off periodically from technology.”

Although it may prove challenging initially, taking such a sabbatical from technology is a key way to balance your life, especially if you find that the constant use of technology and its associated accessibility isn’t worth the price you are paying for it. Peterson recommends turning off smartphones, tablets and all other devices for 24 hours one day each week. “You’ll find that time goes by more slowly and that you are the one in control of your day.”

Making a pact with someone to take a break from technology is a great way to get started, Peterson says. “That social support can be extremely helpful.”

As Kushner notes, technology is not going away. People simply need to find a way to make it fit within their lives and not allow it to take over their lives. So take that quest of self discovery and ask yourself if you are losing sleep, if you are spending less quality time with your family, and if exercise has taken a backseat to your tablet.

“Proactively analyze these things,” Peterson suggests. “If you are aware, you can change.”


► For more from the Spring/Summer issue of 302Health, click here.
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May 2018

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Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
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View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Mary Pritchard is an award winning pastel artist from Chestertown, Maryland. Following a career in education administration at the University of Delaware, Mary returned to painting full-time....

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
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View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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More information

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Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
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View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
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Telephone: 800-448-3883
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Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8283
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
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Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Mary Pritchard is an award winning pastel artist from Chestertown, Maryland. Following a career in education administration at the University of Delaware, Mary returned to painting full-time....

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Mary Pritchard is an award winning pastel artist from Chestertown, Maryland. Following a career in education administration at the University of Delaware, Mary returned to painting full-time....

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
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View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

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Cost: free with admission

Where:
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Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
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Cost: Free

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View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8283
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
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Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Mary Pritchard is an award winning pastel artist from Chestertown, Maryland. Following a career in education administration at the University of Delaware, Mary returned to painting full-time....

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: $10

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View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

Mary Pritchard is an award winning pastel artist from Chestertown, Maryland. Following a career in education administration at the University of Delaware, Mary returned to painting full-time....

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
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GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-656-6466
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A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

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A newly acquired cabinet at Winterthur and related objects in the collection emerge as tools in the lucrative business of transatlantic trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Curated by graduate...

Cost: free with admission

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
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Story Time Thursdays 10:30 - 11 a.m. Enjoy fun animal stories read by our own zoo story-telling team! Story time takes place in the otter circle, in the main zoo, and may include a craft,...

Cost: $7 - $0

Where:
Brandywine Zoo
1001 North Park Drive
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Telephone: 302-571-7747
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Charity Golf Event to benefit Children's Beach House A great way to start your Memorial Day weekend a day early! Make sure to register as a single golfer or register your foursome ahead of...

Cost: $225 Single Golfer / $900 Foursome

Where:
Peninsula on Indian River Bay
26937 Bay Farm Rd.
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: The Ocean Atlantic Companies
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Crooked Hammock Brewery is celebrating the unofficial start of summer all Memorial Day weekend! The festivities kick off on Thursday, May 24th with the release of their two summer seasonal beers,...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
Crooked Hammock Brewery
36707 Crooked Hammock Way
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Crooked Hammock Brewery
Telephone: 302-644-7837
Contact Name: Jon
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Join us on The Patio, voted Best Outdoor Dining by Delaware Today readers! Happy hour 4PM - 6:30PM, live entertainment 6PM - 9PM, local craft beer, handcrafted cocktails, creative gastropub menu,...

Cost: menu items vary

Where:
Hilton Christiana
100 Continental Dr.
Newark, DE  19713
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Relax and unwind after a long day with the Museum’s popular Happy Hour series. Enjoy live music on the terrace with friends or tour the galleries indoors. Special themed nights will be scheduled...

Cost: Museum galleries are open with free admission every Thursday from 4–8 pm

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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  Join Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant as they open their doors to the public on May 24, 2018!  

Cost: Free

Where:
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
19815 Coastal Hwy
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

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Alexi Natchev: Prints and Drawings will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from May 4-25, 2018. A free opening reception to meet the artist will be held on Friday, May 4 from 5-7 p.m. Alexi...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
2nd Floor, Carvel State Office Building
820 N. French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8283
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
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Mary Pritchard is an award winning pastel artist from Chestertown, Maryland. Following a career in education administration at the University of Delaware, Mary returned to painting full-time....

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Mary Pritchard is an award winning pastel artist from Chestertown, Maryland. Following a career in education administration at the University of Delaware, Mary returned to painting full-time....

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

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Mary Pritchard is an award winning pastel artist from Chestertown, Maryland. Following a career in education administration at the University of Delaware, Mary returned to painting full-time....

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

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GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

A newly acquired cabinet at Winterthur and related objects in the collection emerge as tools in the lucrative business of transatlantic trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Curated by graduate...

Cost: free with admission

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Crooked Hammock Brewery is celebrating the unofficial start of summer all Memorial Day weekend! The festivities kick off on Thursday, May 24th with the release of their two summer seasonal beers,...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
Crooked Hammock Brewery
36707 Crooked Hammock Way
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Crooked Hammock Brewery
Telephone: 302-644-7837
Contact Name: Jon
Website »

More information

  Join Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant as they open their doors to the public on May 24, 2018!  

Cost: Free

Where:
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
19815 Coastal Hwy
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
View map »


Sponsor: Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
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Sixth annual St. Catherine of Siena Community Garage Sale held in Church parking lot. One-stop shopping! Approximately 25 homes gather in one location to make your garage sale shopping...

Cost: $25/Consignors ONLY

Where:
St. Catherine of Siena Parish Parking Lot
2503 Centerville Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: St. Catherine of Siena
Telephone: 302-239-1699
Contact Name: Mary Gispert
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The 11th annual Artisans Fair, featuring unique handcrafted art objects, will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 26, at Lord Baltimore Elementary School on Route 26 in Ocean View, DE. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lord Baltimore Elementary School
Route 26
Ocean View, DE  19970
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Sponsor: South Coastal DE AARP Chapter
Telephone: 302-732-6336
Contact Name: Ida Crist
Website »

More information

A needle's eye in a pond, a Greek temple in the garden, an Ottoman tent sitting on a hill—these are just a few of the inspirations for our upcoming, first-ever outdoor exhibition Follies:...

Cost: Included with general admission ($5-20)

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Telephone: 800.448.3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

GUARDIANS OF THE IMAGE MAKER Group Exhibition & Programs Commemorating The 1968 Riots April 6 - June 29, 2018 Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 2018                      5 - 9 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

THE FIGURE: THE INDICATIVE AND THE ALLUSIVE Group Exhibition  April 1 - August 26, 2018 Opening Reception: Friday, April 6, 2018 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop with Panel Discussion: 6 - 7 PM...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 302-656-6466
Website »

More information

A newly acquired cabinet at Winterthur and related objects in the collection emerge as tools in the lucrative business of transatlantic trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Curated by graduate...

Cost: free with admission

Where:
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 800-448-3883
Contact Name: Information and Tours
Website »

More information

Crooked Hammock Brewery is celebrating the unofficial start of summer all Memorial Day weekend! The festivities kick off on Thursday, May 24th with the release of their two summer seasonal beers,...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
Crooked Hammock Brewery
36707 Crooked Hammock Way
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Crooked Hammock Brewery
Telephone: 302-644-7837
Contact Name: Jon
Website »

More information

Science Saturday – River Rangers River Rangers learn how to gauge the health of our local waterways by observing the variety of critters living in it. Visitors of all ages are invited to...

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum & Library
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

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