Founded in 1979 by a small volunteer group of artists and arts patrons, the DCCA made its focus the promotion of growth and understanding of the contemporary arts in Delaware. It started in a former sheet-metal fabricating factory and moved several times, finally finding a permanent home in 2000. This location offered a 35,000-square-foot building and, once remodeled, opened with seven galleries, 26 on-site artist studios, an auditorium, a museum shop, a classroom and administrative office space. By this time a staff was in place and both community outreach and curatorial programming expanded exponentially. The community responded favorably to the DCCA’s new location and programming efforts. The Philadelphia Inquirer described the DCCA as "one of the most innovative and prominent organizations of its kind on the East Coast," and hailed its new building as "a state-of-the-art facility that will allow it to present a broader spectrum of the art experience."
The DCCA, a non-collecting museum, currently presents nearly 30 exhibitions annually of regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized artists. In addition to the exhibitions, DCCA commits to educational and community outreach through various programs, such as Artist Residencies with underserved community groups and Contemporary Connections, a model program that fuses art with schools’ core curriculum, offering fresh new ways to teach subjects such as math and science. The DCCA has partnered in some way with more than 60 community groups and schools.