The juxtaposition of pieces of history and the amalgamation of various art forms, including texts, photographs, sculptures, and every object that can possibly reflect the period of its existence is what creates a museum. Continents across and beyond the barriers of caste, culture, ethnicity, and religion, humans have always found it fascinating to explore the life of our ancestors and preserve them in the best way possible.
The museums created after collective efforts of experts and residents of a particular region become a much sought after tourist destination. Shelburne Museum of Vermont state in the USA is a much sought after museum where an exquisite collection of several artifacts dating back to seventeenth century are kept with an intent to amuse and educate the visitors about the culture, tradition, and lifestyle of people from the past.
Like many other museums in America, the Shelburne Museum began with a collection of an individual. An avid antique collector, Electra Havemeyer Webb, together with her friends, used her collections to establish this museum. Her collection consisted of so many artifacts that it would not have been a justified decision to keep all under one common roof. This decision became the reason behind the construction of several structures that are now home to the historical collections.
The museum was established in 1947 and the collections divided into different categories were put in unusual structures that give the museum a distinctive appeal. These structures represent a lighthouse, barns, general store, bridge; all historical buildings from New York and New England.
Electra started collecting antiques from 1911 and used to deal with the major art dealers. She employed her resources to ensure that all the artifacts are preserved well so that the culture and heritage of the USA can be carried forward. The museum is not just a perspective of the American history, but is an insight into the passion of Electra that resulted in creating a world-class facility where people of the present look at the things of the past and learn about the culture and its influence.
The museum is divided into 39 buildings and is spread across an area of 45 acres. Twenty-five of these structures are actually eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings that have been relocated here. The expanse or the museum ground is located near to the Lake Champlain.
What to See
The different exhibit buildings of the museum are:
Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building
The memorial was dedicated to the founder of the museum and her husband. Built by none other than the children of the couple, the construction of this structure began in 1960 and was completed by 1967. An example of Greek Revival architectural style, the building is home to a wide range of sculptures, paintings, and ancient furniture.
Hat and Fragrance Textile Gallery
The textiles, hatboxes, bandboxes, quilts, and the bedcoverings kept here are a fine remembrance of the industrial uprising and the trends followed in the ancient times.
As the name suggests, this building exhibits the life of people living in the state during this phase. The interior and the exterior shows the architectural and decoration style followed in that period, whereas the collection of furniture, magazines, toys, texts, and other antiques represent the ongoing trends and the boom that the industries were going through.
Beach Lodge and Gallery
The lodge and the gallery are two separate buildings made out of logs. The lodge exhibits hunting trophies, while the gallery displays some fine artworks by artists such as Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Carl Rungius, Sydney Laurence, etc.
This building houses pharmacy products such as drugs, cosmetics, medical and surgical equipment, apothecary bottles, dried herbs, etc. Added to the shop is a compounding room where tools used in such facilities are kept.
The Dorset House
In this building, 900 decoys, along with punt guns and illustrations of sports events, have been stored.
Museum Covered Bridge
This bridge was initially located at the Lamoille river of Cambridge. It was relocated and reassembled above a pond. Equipped with two vehicle lanes and a footpath, it served as the main entrance to the museum, but was later removed due to the heavy traffic that could have possibly damaged the original structure in the long run.
The Blacksmith Shop
A small, traditional, one-roomed structure represents the importance of blacksmiths in the eighteenth century.
With a large number of circus related artifacts such as posters, miniature circus models, carousel figures, carvings, etc., this structure provides information about the circuses that were held in the mid-nineteenth century.
Dutton House or the Salmon Dutton House, exhibits the interior decoration measures taken by the people in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Stencils, wallpapers, and murals were the three ways in which the interiors of any residence were decorated.
The General Store
This structure dates back to 1840, which was initially used as the post office. It was relocated to the museum grounds in 1952. The antiques here include the goods sold at a general store, neatly arranged in shelves. The other rooms depict a post office, barbershop, and taproom, whereas the second floor of the building has been decorated in a way that it represents a dentist’s clinic, ophthalmologist’s clinic, ENT specialist’s clinic, and various medial and surgical equipment.
Horseshoe Barn and Annex
Horseshoe Barn and Horseshoe Annex exhibit a wide range of horse-driven carriages, an important means of transportation that was used before the invention of motor vehicles.
A structure made purely out of slate, it is named after its original location Castleton, where it served for over fifty years before being relocated to the museum grounds.
The Charlotte Meeting House
This structure like the Castleton Jail has been named after its original location, from where it was relocated to the museum grounds in 1952. The building served more than one purpose before it was decided to be shifted to the museum grounds so that it can be preserved for a longer period of time.
Other historical buildings include Round Barn, Ben Lane Print Shop, Shaker Shed, The Toy Shop, Webb Gallery, Stagecoach Inn, etc.
The museum organizes several exhibitions, events, and activities for families, children, adults, and educational institutes.
Eat, Drink, Collect
The museum has an in-house restaurant called the Shelburne Museum Cafe, where you can expect to spend some quality time while gorging on quality food. The menu of the restaurant includes salads, cookies, coffee, sandwiches, desserts, alcoholic beverages, etc.
There are many other restaurants and hotels near the museum and in the city where you can enjoy local and international cuisines and rest before or after your visit to the museum. Econo Lodge Inn and Suites, Countryside Motel, Harrington House Bed and Breakfast, Quality Inn, Days Inn, Inn at Shelburne Farms, Elliot House Bread and Breakfast, Yankee Doodle Motel, Lake View Bar and Grill, Travelodge, and many other establishments are known to serve the visitors as per their requirement.
The museum store sells books, coffee mugs, toys, fol art merchandise, caps, and many other goods to the visitors.
The museum charges $20 as entrance fees for adults and $10 for children of age group 5-18. It allows free admission to children below five years of age. A family pass priced at $50 is also available for couples arriving with their kids. Entry for museum members, active military members, and disabled veterans is free, whereas those who have retired from military are entitled to a $2 discount on the entry fees.
The residents of the state are granted admission on a fifty percent discounted rate.
There are no charges for parking, photography, and video shooting though some exhibits may restrict the use of camera.
The collections of the Shelburne Museum and its unique built will definitely help you realize the worth of preserving the culture and heritage in a way that it becomes easy for the world to have a look at the history and identify how the past has contributed to develop the world that we live in today.