The Shelburne Museum is a village of museums that spans a 45 acre campus. Seeing every one of the 39 buildings and every exhibit in one day is nearly impossible. Over half of the buildings on the campus were relocated to the property and are examples of historic New England Architecture and are a sight to see unto themselves.
Founder Electra Webb wanted the Shelburne Museum to be a “Collection of Collections” and the museum has amassed over 100,000 holdings in its permanent collection. The collection is divided into 10 categories:
· American Paintings- features over 600 paintings by Ogden Pleissner, works by Winslow Homer, Thomas Cole, Andrew Wyeth, Albert Bierstadt, Eastman Johnson, and extensive holdings by Fitz Henry Lane, Anna Mary Robertson Moses, and Carl Rungius among others.
· Horse Drawn Vehicles- Nearly 200 examples of 19th and early 20th century horse drawn vehicles
· Circus- A popular exhibit featuring hand carved wooden circus parade over 500 feet long comprised of 4,000 figurines depicting circus performers. There are also over 500 circus posters in the collection and photographs from the mid-20th century circus era.
· Decorative Arts- American decorative arts and an extensive furniture collection can be found throughout 6 of the structures on the campus including an entire suite of furniture made by Louis Comfort Tiffany from 1892.
· Decoys- An unrivaled collection of 1,400 wildfowl decoys that includes more than 400 from Joel Barber who was the first to identify decoys as an artform. This collection is in the Dorset House.
· Folk Art- 18th and 19th century folk art collected from across New England included weathervanes, trade signs, carvings, and paintings by Edward Hicks and Joseph Whiting Stock. Folk art is scattered throughout several different structures at Shelburne Museum.
· Impressionist Paintings- located only in the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building, this is where visitors can see French Impressionist paintings by masters such as Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, and Mary Cassatt.
· Textiles- Quilts are exhibited as works of art alongside woven coverlets, rugs, and printed fabrics from the 1700’s to present day. Textile work can be found in the Printing Shop and Weaving Shop along with the Prentis House and Hat Gallery.
· Toys, Doll Houses, and Automata- The Variety Unit is where visitors will find this collection that fills the entire second floor of this house. Dolls from Europe and America, 19th and 20th century handmade doll houses, and large mechanical toys can be found here. Vintage toys are located in the Toy Shop.
· Vermont Firearms- This collection is housed in the Beach Gallery and Lodge. Guns from the earliest known gun maker in Vernot John Hills, can be seen here, as well as military guns from several American wars and foreign wars. Photo: Shelburne Museum
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