Sunday, October 2, 2016

Finishing Up At the Shelburne Museum

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Shelburne, Vermont

At the end of the last post I left behind the large doll collection and discovered a wonderful world of lavish miniature homes, shops and hotels. These incredibly detailed vignettes were designed from 1861 to 1921.

1901 Tavern with pewter dishes and steins. The door is the height of a book of matches.
The rugs and crockery!
The lighting is very low for preservation and in some cases I can only see the individual rooms in the photos I take through the tiny windows. No flash is used, but in most cases there's enough light to capture the scenes inside. 

Warm lighting makes me want to live here.
Eventually I give up trying to read about every single one and just enjoy the experience. If dollhouses aren't your thing you'll want to scroll down a ways :-)

The shoes and wallpaper detail! The picture on the wall is about half the size of a postage stamp.
More tiny dishes and pots. Cleaning a teeny fish.
Really unattractive gentleman, but nice gloves.
1889 Hotel
The lobby is my favorite. The suitcases and tiny clock are incredible.
Lots of little ladies
Next was the small, two-room toy shop with a working train and several collections of cast iron and wooden toys.

Cast iron bank
1922 metal wind-up trolley
Fire fighter collection
Well worn, but still colorful
The exteriors
and grounds, make moving between buildings as enjoyable as the interior exhibits.
The Textile Gallery is housed in the 1800 Distillery. Before being moved to the museum in 1947 the building also served as Shelburne's town barn. The museum's collection of over 500 quilts is internationally known. Approximately 30 are displayed as a rotating exhibit, including both vintage and newer pieces. The 3-D-art quilts are eye-popping!

Six layers create a free-standing five foot tall quilted beauty
Colorful wall hanging
Quilting and ceramics combine to make a whimsical creation. Bubbles, not a pipe.
Containing more than 12,000 individual fabric pieces, this 1930's Pieced Postage Stamp beauty was made by Catherine King of Braintree, Vermont, at the age of 87. Extraordinary!
Another visitor said "This reminds me of a jazz solo." I must need to listen to more jazz.......
This building also houses a three-room collection of vintage hat boxes. Displayed all together they are quite lovely.
A collection of Samplers from 1790-1899 is also included. I still have mine from probably 1966ish.
The Stone Cottage, built in 1840 and moved here a hundred years later, was home to a farmhand and his family of five. The first floor is accessible and furnished in the simple lifestyle of its original tenants.

No community would be complete without a Jail. This two-cell jail served 50 years in Castleton, Vermont, until paroled here in 1953. With just one barred window for light, this was a very dark place to contemplate one's bad behavior.

Note the very thick walls.
The Weaving and Print Shops were constructed on site in 1955. The printer is closed today, but the weaver's door is open for viewing several barn-frame looms as well as other antique processing tools.

Jacquard Loom, American Halton Company, 1851
Made on the four looms in the shop.
The huge Horseshoe Barn is closed today as well. Behind it stands the Barn Annex. Having already seen so many splendid things, I start laughing when I step inside - because it just keeps getting better! I've seen individual stages and wagons at other museums, but the size and variety of this collection of horse-drawn transportation boggles the mind. 

Horseshoe Barn. I missed the information on its origin.
A collection of big
Conestoga Wagon, 1837
Ice Wagon, 1880
I have never seen a Stage Sleigh before. This one was built in 1800 and used for 100 years between Worcester and Lowell, Massachusetts.
David Buxton sold his cure-all from 1894 - 1941, starting door-to-door in this wagon.
This carpeted trunk is beautiful.
It's after two o'clock, my feet need a rest, and I'm hungry. The cafe serves a nice selection of sandwiches and grill items, plus drinks and desserts. I enjoy a turkey wrap and water under the trees before continuing this lovely stroll through history.

A picture-perfect spot for lunch
Another of Sherwood's moving-metal sculptures stand at the far side of the pond.
The Blacksmith is talking to a small group of visitors about his life in 1875. His shop is full of wonderful smells and tools.

"Our little town is growing, but few can afford to pay us enough to keep the fires lit this winter."
The Dutton House was built by Salmon Dutton in 1782 and was home to his descendants until 1900. It was moved to the museum in 1950, the first private home to join the collection of other structures. Most interesting to me, is that it is furnished based on the 1824 probate inventory of household items when Dutton passed away. 

Beautiful home
Furnishings were sparse
A steamer to add moisture during cold, dry winters
The attraction that gets the most "play" here is the steamship Ticonderoga. Every level is accessible, from the engine room below to the very top deck, and painstakingly restored to its original beauty. 

She served a long and busy career moving passengers, vehicles and freight from 1906 until 1950. One of only two remaining side-paddle-wheel steamers, she was saved from the scrapheap when she was moved here in 1954.

One level below deck, autos and freight
and horses with "sea legs" traveled with their passengers.
Here I find the anticipated crowds which causes me to avoid the tighter below-deck areas. There is still plenty to see, and I understand why this old girl is so popular. Even docked on a sea of grass it is easy to imagine enjoying a vacation aboard such a grand ship.

They dined on china and crystal with beautiful views
and relaxed indoors in comfort.
The most expensive staterooms were a good size.
Engineers shared quarters on the same level while the rest of the crew were below deck in barracks.
All sleeping rooms held life vests in the ceiling
I love all the detail in the woodwork
and the interesting puzzle-piece floor.
Much of the ship contains original items from her active career.
The beautiful Round Barn was one of the last structure acquisitions moved to the museum. Inside a film runs showing the 1985 move from East Passumpsic, Vermont - by helicopter! It was quite the undertaking, with spectators lined up at both ends of the journey.

Now here is where I make my grave error. Instead of turning right, I turn left to the Pizzagalli Center to see the Circus Posters and Grandma Moses collection. Not that these aren't wonderful, and something I want to see - but I miss the Carousel and Circus Building!! I don't realize it until I'm back home and kicking myself.

A lecture on Magic Lanterns and vintage circus slides is beginning when I arrive at the Center so I sit in for 30 minutes. The auditorium is packed, many people know each other, most are dressed very nicely, this is clearly a big deal to the community of museum-goers here.

The slides are shown from this 1892 Magic Lantern. This one uses a light bulb rather than the earlier candle flame.
Many of the old slides were hand-tinted by the collector's wife.
While the slides need to be higher on the wall, the vintage detail is wonderful
Our presenter loves his job and is very fun.
From here I move to the exhibits. No photography allowed of the Grandma Moses collection - probably 50 paintings of small-town America in her unique and simple style. 

I've never been a fan of the circus - clowns are creepy, and my mother always felt bad for the animals and that stuck with me. But the impact of the circus coming to town, of the big top being erected in an empty lot, of everyone lining Main Street for the parade - there's just something so exciting about all that! The old posters somehow carry that feeling with them. Even hung on sterile walls in a museum, their magic is palatable.

Covered the full side of a barn.
After this wall panel was stored for two decades, six layers of posters were discovered and tell a story of competing circus companies. 
For months the thin posters were carefully separated. Some full pieces were saved.
In some cases only a small part could be salvaged.
This snake-charmer maintains the original vivid colors.
Another panel was found in 2001 but the nine layers were too compressed for separation - one can only imagine the wonders hiding inside.
Unbelievably I didn't see every one of the 39 buildings. There are more houses and a railroad depot and a meeting hall and other shops and the two I didn't mean to miss. I will definitely come back again - and plan to spend more than a day seeing this wonderful place.

The spiral garden is full of bright color.
Purple peppers!

Many thanks to Electra Havemeyer Webb whose vision and commitment brought this "collection of collections" together for all of us to enjoy.

For those of you not receiving email notifications, I am working on the problem and hope you'll check in regularly until I can get them restored. Thanks!!


  1. Wow is all I can say. This place is really amazing. I sure hope they sell multi-day tickets. Loved the doll houses and the quilts. I was a quilter in my former life and just do not believe that the things made on machines both pieced and quilted should be allowed to share the same name with those made by the hands of the amazing women who created them. I'm really overwhelmed at the hugeness of this place and I'm only reading your post. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be there. A steamship even. The round barn is gorgeous. Really enjoyed this Jodee. Thank you for spending the time to create such a thorough look at this amazing place.

    1. Oh I'm so glad you liked it!! Yes, the fee is for two days, and there's plenty to come back for on day two. The vintage quilts did have their own space.

  2. WOW again ! What an incredible collection of collections. The details in the dollhouses is amazing. I have to say tough, the quilts are my favorite. I have several my great grandmother made and two Joe's great grandmother made. I could see spending several days exploring here Jodee. You did so much in just one day.
    Nice post...

    1. Aren't quilts just wonderful?! This is one of those places where you can explore every nook and crany - both inside and out.

  3. That's definitely an interesting visit. We would love to walk through there.

  4. What an incredible place! Thank you for taking me there. The detail is stunning and you gave a good representation of all that is on offer.

    1. Glad you had fun coming along. It's a must see when in Vermont.

  5. I am sorry we never stopped to visit. The miniatures are amazing!!! What tiny little items and unbelievable details. I could have stayed there all day just studying each item. The quilts are spectacular! I love the 3-D much work! The ship gorgeous! Love that puzzle floor:) Purple peppers:) Great tour...thanks!

    1. You guys will love this place. The history alone is wonderful.

  6. Great job sharing all the collections Jodee. Yes you do have to comeback you missed several buildings :) especially the Circus Building. I know you don't like circus but the miniature collection of Arnold on Parade is like miniature parade on steroids!

    1. I was so mad at myself for missing the carousel - and more miniatures!! Next time for sure.

  7. What a fabulous collection of collections! I can't believe all that you managed to see in just one day. So much caught my attention—the detail of those tiny items in the dollhouses is just amazing. And that postage stamp quilt! Even better that it was made by an 87 year-old woman (maybe she started it at age 8? :-)) The collection of wagons is interesting—and the ship, of course. But I'm with you on the circus—sad for the animals, and clowns are totally creepy!

    1. I wondered the same thing about the quilt - it looked like it had to have taken that many years!! And old circuses had all those "fun house" exhibits too, those were really weird :-)

  8. So much to see no wonder one day is not enough yet you got in a lot.