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Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Shelburne Museum

While visiting Maine and Vermont a few weeks ago, my hubby and I wanted to visit The Shelburne Museum and boy were we glad we did!  We had no idea what to expect, but had heard many wonderful things about it.  Both early American history lovers, we were sorry we didn't allow more time there.  The museum has many historic buildings (most were moved there from another location) situated on 40+ acres of land.  A shuttle bus allows on/off access as you move around the property, and the shuttle drivers fill you in on a lot of the history, and the exhibits housed in each building.  Not knowing how long we would have and what was in store, I headed for the antique quilt exhibit first.
This is the only photo I was allowed to take of the quilts.  Of the more than 600 vintage quilts the museum owns, you can see about 60 antique quilts at on display any given time with half of the exhibit rotating every two years.  There were remarkable pieces on display.  I really enjoyed being able to "flip" through the quilts on those moving display boards.  They were under glass, and you could really get up close to see the stitches and fabrics.  

Coverlets were housed in the same building  Isn't this display of indigo and white stunning?
Signage told the story of how the coverlets were made way back when, and any history of the weaver.  These two beauties really caught my eye. 
The details is extraordinary.  My heart just swelled taking it all in, and I thought how fortunate that it has survived all these years in perfect condition for us to enjoy now.  As fibre artist, wouldn't it be something if our work survived this long and ended up in a museum?  Don't think your work would make the cut?
In the room next to the Coverlets was a collection of samplers....be still my heart!  
 I'm betting that Miss Fanny Clark, 9 years old, never expected her sweet schoolgirl sampler to be in a museum either, so there's hope for us all!  
While I took my time staring, studying and appreciating all of the samplers in the room, it was this needle work that stopped me in my tracks.  Only once before have I been in the same room with a piece like this (in the home of an antique sampler appraiser friend.)  So very rare, they are seen mostly in books, this pole screen dating to c1810-1830 was the gem of the collection, in my humble opinion.  The display card read as follows...."The pole screen was a practical object on which young ladies exercised their needlework skill.  The purpose of the screen was to protect one's face from the heat of the open fire, and for this reason the height was adjustable." Love, love, love!
For this Prairie Woman whom loves life in early America, this building was so fun for me!!!  I could have pulled up a chair and stayed the day.  The building was relocated from "downtown" Shelburne to the museum property decades ago.  In its day, it was a bustling Dry Goods store that served the community, but had been boarded up, and sealed shut along with the contents of the shop displays, etc.  Rescued from destruction, the museum took it and restored it to it's days of glory....just as it was when it closed its door.  To walk through those doors is to walk back in time.
The General Store volunteers are very enthusiastic to share their knowledge of the thousands of items in the shop.  Just as you might expect, people would come to the store for everything they needed.  

Food, hardware, ammunition, medicine, household goods, clothes and yes, fabric!  Who wouldn't want that fabric display?!! (Fabrics were reproductions)
Just look at all the yummy 'goods' you can shop for!  
Like this little sewing section with all those wonderful spool cabinets?
Need a few storage containers?  Band box?  Firkin?  Yes!!!  The store also served as the post office.  
Did you notice this sign in the photo above.  I had to inquire.  A lot of General Store's bartered with the community, and offered credit.  This sign means no credit and no bartering. Interesting.....another term of a bygone era.  As with every generation, we loose phrases of everyday life, and with today's technology, it seems so many are disappearing much too quickly.

Well...I hope I've given you enough of a sneak peek of just a few of the many, many things to see at The Shelburne Museum.  There are so many reasons to visit Maine and Vermont, and I hope someday I'll return.  The countryside was lovely, food yummy, and some of the warmest, friendliest people I've ever met.  

Back to work in the present day.....but I always take a piece of the nineteenth century with my everywhere I go.  


  1. A visit to this wonderful place will now be on my bucket list! Thanks for giving us a bit of a tour.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I hope you have more to come.

  3. Loved the second hand tour of the Shelburne with you! I've always wanted to visit there myself. I'd like to shop in that General Store for an hour or so. I'd love to have that fabric display piece, one or two of the spool cabinets, and ....all of it!

  4. I too, hope you return again Pam. Not only for you; but to teach at the Maine Quilt Show again. Your warm heart and welcoming smile made me so comfortable, even though I struggled so much with those itty bitty pieces in the smallest Starry, Starry Nines. Thank you for the lovely pictures from the Museum also. Hubby and I camped many years ago at the Shelburne campground and enjoyed the museum; but that was before I became interested in quilting. Soooo, I need to go again to enjoy the quilts!!! Hopefully will do so when I visit the Vt. Quilt Festival again. It is a fabulous show and have been there twice.

  5. I was anxiously waiting for your post about the Shelburne Museum since Kurt and I are planning a trip to the New England states and some of the Maritime provinces soon. The S.M. is on my list of places to stop. Bennington too. Looks wonderful. Just seeing the photos made my heart race. So glad you got to go.

    Thanks for sharing,

  6. Thanks for the preview of the Shelburne Museum. My husband I plan to take advantage of the two day passes next month. I can't wait to go!

  7. Thanks for the tour, Pam. The coverlets are so, so beautiful!

  8. Looks like an absolutely incredible place to visit. I can tell you were in your element. Wish I had been able to visit this place while my daughter lived in New England!

  9. I was there years ago and was amazed. A beautiful place where history comes to life. Would love to visit again... maybe some day. Thank you for all the pictures.

  10. Pam, thanks so much for sharing all this wonderful eye candy with us. My mom found an indigo coverlet at goodwill quilt a while ago. Sadly it wasn't taken care of properly and has unraveled around all edges. But it is still a substantial size and I love it to bits!!

  11. Amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing these photos!!

  12. Wow, so beautiful.Thanks for sharing pics!

  13. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome info! I am looking forward to see more posts by you!
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