Restored Ticonderoga steamboat at the Shelburne Museum - Photo by Andrew Harper

Folk Art at the Shelburne Museum

By Andrew Harper

The Hideaway Report | September 1, 2016

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Just a short drive from The Inn at Shelburne Farms lies the extraordinary Shelburne Museum, founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb, a pioneer in the appreciation of American folk art. She learned about art from her parents, who were notable collectors of Asian, European and Impressionist works. While she initially focused on gathering paintings, quilts, textiles and furniture, Webb also assembled tableware, waterfowl decoys, carriages and other artifacts from daily life. In addition, she put together a remarkable assortment of original structures that included a meeting house, a lighthouse and the “Round Barn,” all of which are spread across 45 acres in a townlike setting. Most unexpected was the Arnold Circus Parade, a 500-foot-long assemblage of figurines depicting the animals, clowns and wagons that would have been part of a circus in days gone by. A specially designed curved building houses this delightful work as well as carousel animals and circus posters. Webb accurately described the Shelburne Museum as a “collection of collections.”

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