American Gilded Age

After the Civil War, fast-growing industries such as railroads, gunpowder and steel presented tremendous opportunity for wealth in Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic. Families of American industrialists (largely white) patterned themselves on European aristocracy in education, architecture and art collecting. They filled Beaux-Arts mansions with European and American art, and their cities with elite public institutions, including museums, libraries, opera houses and theaters. Some of America’s wealthy families established the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1870 and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1877. This age also introduced art schools, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where students studied classical art techniques, and often traveled to France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and Spain to begin careers under acknowledged masters. These artists returned to the United States with a wider variety of artistic points of view.