May 28, 2020
For the first time in its 73-year history, Shelburne Museum will not open for summer due to concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, Museum Director Thomas Denenberg announced. All exhibition buildings, the grounds and the museum store will remain closed through the spring and summer months.
Exhibitions will be canceled or postponed. Events and activities, educational programming and rental events will be canceled or rescheduled. The museum’s administrative offices are also closed, with staff working remotely until public health officials advise it is safe to return to offices.
“The decision to extend the closure of Shelburne Museum was a difficult one. We followed guidance from state and federal health officials. While we weighed that advice with our paramount concern for the safety of our extended Shelburne Museum family — staff, volunteers and visitors — we really saw no other alternative. We also took into account the lead time necessary to bring the museum’s 45-acre campus with 39 buildings and galleries safely back into full operation,” Denenberg said. “We look forward to the day we can get back to doing what we do best — engaging and inspiring through our beautiful and storied collections, buildings and gardens.”
A date has not been scheduled for the museum to reopen. That decision will be based on ongoing monitoring of the pandemic and recommendations of health officials, Denenberg said.
With the physical campus closed, the museum has ramped up remote outreach designed to share the joy and wonder of Shelburne Museum digitally and provide resources to educators and learners of all ages. The museum’s first online exhibition, “Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scale,” opened on April 18. In addition, the museum’s robust social media content offers viewers behind-the-scenes looks at objects as seen through the eyes of museum conservators, video tours by curators, webinars highlighting exhibitions and activities for families and children.
“There’s no question that the coming months won’t be the same while much anticipated exhibitions, events and visits are on hiatus. While we look forward to the day we once again welcome visitors back onto the museum campus, we invite our friends to connect with us digitally via our social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and to visit us on our website to experience exhibitions,” said Karen Petersen, Stiller Family Foundation director of education and director of visitor experience and learning.
New Online Exhibition
“American Stories,” a new online exhibition that examines the American experience as seen through the collections of Shelburne Museum, launched May 14, Shelburne Museum Director Thomas Denenberg announced.
Drawing inspiration from Shelburne’s vast holdings of American art, architecture and material culture, “American Stories” is an exhibition in four parts — people, travel, home and community. Part One: People is set to launch on May 14, with subsequent parts scheduled to be posted every other week on May 28, June 11 and June 25.
“‘American Stories’ offers a window onto periods in the nation’s history as interpreted through some of Shelburne’s most familiar and beloved objects ranging from 19th-century portraits of William and Nancy Lawson by William Matthew Prior, hooked rugs by contemporary artist Patty Yoder and even the 1906 steamboat Ticonderoga,” Denenberg said. “This exhibition highlights the breadth of the museum’s collections and the artists and makers who contributed to a uniquely American narrative story through their art.”
The exhibition is accompanied by interactive experiences including recorded talks from curators, preservation and conservation insights and educational activities.
“While represented in many forms, from paintings to textiles to a locomotive and steamship, ‘American Stories’ reflects on the ingenuity, creativity and skill of artists and makers that offers a look back while also sending a hopeful message about the future,” said Associate Curator Katie Wood Kirchhoff, who organized the exhibition.
American Stories is the second exclusively online exhibition launched by the museum since temporarily closing due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first, “Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scale,” is an exploration of museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb’s passion for American folk art and her collecting ethos as she assembled one of the earliest and largest collections that would become the foundation for the museum.
Forthcoming exhibitions include “Painting at Home with Grandma Moses,” a sampling of works by Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses in partnership with Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, that focus on the artist’s landscapes of the imagination for the modern era that stir feelings of nostalgia for decades past.
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Foundation and the Barnstormers at Shelburne Museum.
About Shelburne Museum
Founded in 1947 by pioneering folk art collector Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960), Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, is the largest art and history museum in northern New England and Vermont’s foremost public resource for visual art and material culture. The museum’s 45-acre campus is comprised of 39 buildings including the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education and Webb Gallery featuring important American paintings by Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Grandma Moses, John Singleton Copley and many more. For more information, please visit shelburnemuseum.org.