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Exploring Life on and Around Lake Champlain
Located in Vermont’s scenic Lake Champlain Valley, The Shelburne Museum offers one of the finest, most diverse, and unconventional museums of art and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 39 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the Museum grounds.
Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, decorative arts, furniture, American paintings, and a dazzling array of 17th-to 20th-century artifacts are on view. The Shelburne Museum is home to the finest museum collections of 19th-century American folk art, quilts, 19th- and 20th-century decoys, and carriages.
Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960), whio founded Shelburne Museum in 1947, was a pioneering collector of American folk art. Her parents, H.O. and Louisine Havemeyer, were important collectors of European and Asian art, and she, in turn, exercised an independent eye and passion for art, artifacts, and architecture – particularly that which was distinctly American.
Mrs. Webb exercised creativity when she began collecting 18th and 19th-century buildings from around New England and New York, which were used to display the Museum’s holdings. This required moving 20 historic structures to Shelburne, Vermont. These include houses, barns, a meeting house, a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge, and later the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga.
She sought to create “an educational project, varied and alive.” A visitors experience at the Shelburne Museum is unique: remarkable collections exhibited in a village-like setting of historic New England architecture, accented by a landscape that includes a circular formal garden, herb and heirloom vegetable gardens, and perennial gardens.
The closing of one of the Webb’s homes unintentionally gave birth to the museum. The question of what would become of her collections of cigar store Indians, hunting decoys, and weather vanes had to be settled. Webb’s museum quickly became a haven for the handmade objects of another era. A two hundred year old tavern houses one of the finest collections of weathervanes, trade signs, and primitive portraits on the continent. A rambling old farmhouse is filled with mochaware, pewter, and staffordshire. The finest collection of carriages and sleighs in North America rests in a unique horseshoe barn. Period homes, filled with outstanding collections of early American furniture and accessories, dot the grounds.
Rather than confine her eclectic collections to a single modern gallery, Webb chose to create an institution that would showcase her “collection of collections” in fine examples of early American homes and public buildings. The entire museum reflects Electra Webb’s passion for American art and design, she treasured a stunning variety of objects.
The Shelburne Museum’s collections, educational programs, special events, workshops, activities, demonstrations and special exhibitions offer new perspectives on four centuries of art and culture, providing a museum experience unlike any other.
6000 Shelburne Road, PO Box 10
Shelburne, VT 05482
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