Postcard History: Shelburne Museum
with Carla Charter at Chairside New England History
“We are a collection of collections,” said Betsy Pardi, Assistant Manager of Visitor Services and Museum Store, of the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. The museum was created by Electra Havemeyer Webb. “She was an innovator who collected American Folk Art which people did not collect at the time.”
Webb came from a family of collectors, with her father Harry Osbourne Havemeyer collecting Asian Art and Art of the Masters and her mother, Lousine, collecting Impressionist art. When Lousine passed away her collection was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It now forms the core of the museum’s Impressionistic collection. The Shelburne Museum also has several paintings from Lousine’s collection including works by Monet, Manet, Degas and Mary Cassatt.
Webb’s in-laws were collectors of coaches and carriages. When they passed away, the collection came to Electra, who kept it intact who promised, it would remain intact and displayed it at a nine acre farm she had purchased in Shelburne. This
the north part of the current Shelburne Museum and displayed the Carriage collection in the Horseshoe Barn there
The barn is now one of 39 buildings at the Museum, which has now expanded to 45 acres. The Stagecoach Inn came from a stagecoach stop on the Montréal and Boston line. Pardi said, “the Inn holds American Folk Art tobacconist figures, trade signs, folk paintings weathervanes and and that’s just one building.”
Many of the 39 buildings have been moved from other parts of New England. “These buildings were carefully dismantled, labeled, photographed and reassembled on site.”
The museum has preserved more than collections and buildings as well. Webb purchased the Ticonderoga, a Lake Champlain steam paddleboat, the last one existing of its kind. The steamship was placed on a rail carriage and moved two miles on specially laid railroad tracks. “It had to be done during the winter when the ground was frozen,” Pardi said. She continued that the Ticonderoga has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Pardi continued the museum also houses an internationally known permanent collection of quilts which rotates. “Most years we have a guest quilter as well.” Along with their permanent exhibitions, the museum also offers special exhibits yearly.
More information about the Shelburne Museum and its collections can be found at shelburnemuseum.org
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