Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Summer Collection Sneak Peek

by Rebecca Hartje, Administrative and Development Assistant

The vast and varied collections on display at Shelburne Museum can seem almost intimidatingly large—but even if you’ve steadfastly combed through every gallery and building in the past, there’s always more to see.  The 50,000 objects on display represent only about half of the total objects in the permanent collection; however, the Museum can’t reasonably show off its entire collections at once due to two main factors: space constraints and conservation concerns.  Pleissner Gallery, for example, houses our collection of paintings by Ogden M. Pleissner, but it only has enough wall-space to hang about 30 of the several hundred paintings in the collection.  Similarly, we only display a fraction of our world-class quilts in an effort to preserve them for posterity.  As objects conservator Nancie Ravenel explains, each quilt can be exposed to a limited amount of light before it starts to degrade, so we periodically remove objects from public display in an effort to “ration their lifetimes” and ensure that “your grandchildren will get to see them.”

Our curators work hard to continually reinterpret the Museum founder, Electra Havemeyer Webb’s vision under the constraints of space and conservation, and every summer they create new rotating exhibitions to display different parts of the collection. Unlike the changing exhibitions in the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education, where you can see both local and international art, the rotating exhibitions highlight objects from the Museum’s own permanent collections. If you want to discover objects from the permanent collection you might never have seen before or that you might’ve overlooked in the past, don’t miss these three exhibitions on view May 1 – October 31.

 Quilts that Made the Grade
Quilt Exhibition from the Permanent Collection: Hat and Fragrance Gallery
 Crazy, applique, log cabin printed, postage stamp, pieced pineapple—this season’s exhibition showcases a variety of quilts among the finest in the collection. Our quilts have been evaluated based on a combination of factors including technique, condition, historical value, and originality of design to determine each quilt’s letter grade, just like the grades you receive in school. Based on these grades and additional size concerns, Assistant Curator Carolyn Bauer has selected predominately grade “A’s” for this exhibition of 27 stellar quilts.

Unknown, Applique Love Apple Quilt, 1850-1860. Cotton, 88 x 86 in. Gift of Electra 
Havemeyer Webb,1959-268; 10-321.

Around the World in Twenty-Six Paintings
Travel with Ogden Pleissner: Pleissner Gallery. Take a pictorial journey to eight states and four countries through this survey of Ogden Pleissner’s paintings from the permanent collection. The exhibition leads you through time in addition to place as many of the works reflect landscapes during and after World War II. Pleissner’s command of light and color creates unique and authentic atmospheres from places as near as Grafton, VT to the faraway canals of Venice.

Thread Bare: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Conserving Floor Coverings
Rug Exhibition from the Permanent Collection: Hat and Fragrance Gallery. Although all the Museum’s objects require special care to ensure they remain in good condition, some objects, particularly textiles, are more fragile than others. The 2015 exhibition features nine rugs from the renowned collection of 19th- and 20th-century floor coverings, conserved as part of a Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant. The exhibition presents the results of treatments for aesthetic issues, like stains and fading, and for stability, like repairing holes. Come check out the progress made thus far to conserve some of the Museum’s most vulnerable objects.

Unknown, Applique Love Apple Quilt, 1850-1860. Cotton, 88 x 86 in. Gift of Electra Havemeyer Webb, 1959-268; 10-321. Photography by Andy Duback.


As the assistant to the executive director and the development team, Rebecca wears many hats at the Museum, from liaising for the Director’s Office, processing memberships, becoming queen of the copier, writing blog posts, and everything in between. She loves writing and editing, learning new skills, and breakfast for dinner.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Looking Ahead: A Year of Art & Design at Shelburne Museum

Museum Director, Thomas Denenberg, announced the Museum’s extended schedule of exhibitions through early 2016.  “I am pleased to share Shelburne Museum’s plans for the coming year,” Denenberg said. “These exhibitions showcase the strengths and depths of this institution’s acclaimed collections, as well as our goal of bringing meaningful projects that explore American art and culture to the community. Each exhibition exemplifies Shelburne Museum’s mission of accessibility and education.”

Through 2016, this schedule of diverse and compelling exhibitions will feature: Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic, the ingenious exhibition from the author of “I Spy” and other whimsical tales will feature original models and photographs; American Moderns: 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell, is the final chance to see Brooklyn Museum’s acclaimed exhibition exploring the individuality and creativity of American midcentury artists; Rich and Tasty: Vermont Furniture to 1850, is an important exploration of early Vermont furniture; Eyes on the Land, a contemporary collaboration with the Vermont Land Trust of commissioned Vermont art inspired by preserved lands; Birds of a Feather: Shelburne Museum’s Decoy Collection, celebrates the finest and most comprehensive public collection of decoys in the world; and 32°:The Art of Winter, an interactive multi-disciplinary exhibition that features artistic expressions of the complexity of snow and ice.

Shelburne Museum’s education staff at the Pizzagalli Center for Art & Education will develop programs based on the themes of the upcoming exhibitions that engage learners of all ages with interactive activities, thought provoking lectures, and workshops in a variety of media, from paper to ice. In addition, for adults, nationally-known speakers will lead symposia on art history, craft, historic preservation, and topics that extend and amplify exhibition themes.


Additional information about each exhibition is listed below (in chronological order). All exhibition dates are subject to change, and additional exhibitions may be added. For more details, visit www.shelburnemuseum.org.

Walter Wick with model. Copyright Wick Studio.
Organized by the New Britain Museum of American Art.

March 28, 2015 until July 5, 2015
Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic, is an ingenious exhibition which exemplifies the whimsy and surprise visitors expect from Shelburne Museum. The exhibition features large scale photographs, meticulous models, and videos of model buildings, which showcase the dizzying details behind the construction of favorite Wick books such as Can You See What I See on a Scary, Scary Night?, Dream Machine, Once Upon a Time and Out of This World. Children and adults will be mesmerized by Walter Wick’s illusions and design elements.

As memorable as my books have been for millions of readers, that experience will not prepare them for the large scale photos and 3D models in my exhibition, Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic – a title which describes not only the contents of the show, but the contents of my head; a world where ordinary toys and common objects have taken on new life in the form of visual games, perplexing illusions, and a few scientific wonders thrown in for good measure.” -Walter Wick

Image: Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986). 2 Yellow Leaves
(Yellow Leaves), 1928. Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 1/8 in. (101.6 x 76.5
cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe, 87.136.6
June 13, 2015 until September 13, 2015
“American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O'Keeffe to Rockwell,” presents more than 50 major works of art from the Brooklyn Museum’s renowned collection of modern art. The diversity of the art produced in the 50 years between 1910 and 1960 is represented in paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Milton Avery, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Rockwell Kent, Joseph Stella, Elie Nadelman, Norman Rockwell and more. At the end of her life, Shelburne Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) planned to expand the Museum’s collection to include modernist paintings and sculpture. This exhibition allows visitors a rare opportunity to experience such modern masters in Vermont. American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell has been organized by the Brooklyn Museum.”

James Richardson, Worktable, ca. 1825.  Maple, mahogany, maple, butternut, cherry, yellow birch, pine and brass, 28 x 24 1/8 x 17 in.  Private Collection.

July 25, 2015 until November 11, 2015
Rich and Tasty: Vermont Furniture to 1850. This exhibition and accompanying catalogue will introduce and identify Vermont high style furniture, previously known only to decorative arts scholars, historians and collectors. The project arrives twenty years after Shelburne Museum published a seminal checklist of early Vermont Furniture and is the result of two decades of scholarship. The exhibition will feature pieces that will illuminate the craft practices and regional economics that help define Vermont furniture’s stylistic features and unexpected aesthetic innovations, referred to as “Rich and Tasty” by one Vermont cabinetmaker.

October 10, 2015 until January 3, 2016
Eyes on the Land. For this exhibition, Shelburne Museum’s creative collaboration with the Vermont Land Trust creates a unique and powerful exhibition. 13 contemporary Vermont artists and photographers were commissioned by the VLT to produce new works using preserved lands as their inspiration. Their work will be exhibited inside and on the grounds surrounding the Pizzagalli Center for Art & Education.

Anthony Elmer Crowell(1862-1951), Black Duck
Decoy, East Harwich, Massachusetts, circa 1920,
carved and painted wood, 4 ½” high by 16 ½” wide,
depth 5 ¾”. Shelburne Museum permanent collection.
Courtesy of Shelburne Museum.

 November 21, 2015 until June 5, 2016
Birds of a Feather: Shelburne Museum’s Decoy Collection. The reinstallation of the Dorset House decoy collection, recognized as the finest and most comprehensive public collection in the world, was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The 1,200 decoys include superb examples by North American master craftsmen including: A. Elmer Crowell, John Blair, Bill Bowman, Nathan Cobb, Lee Dudley, and many more. In addition, renowned decoy factories such as Mason Decoy, American Decoy, Dodge Decoy, Rose Folding Decoy, and Stevens Decoy are represented. The core of this collection came to museum founder, Electra Havemeyer Webb from the collection of Joel Barber, a New York City architect, carver, and watercolorist, who was the first to identify decoys as art and historical artifacts, representing both sporting culture and commerce.

January 23, 2016 until April 10, 2016
32°: The Art of Winter, is an interactive multi-disciplinary exhibition allowing visitors to experience the complexity of snow and ice through fine art, decorative art, and ephemeral art— like ice sculptures.  It will challenge visitors to reassess their knowledge of snow and ice. They will be engaged in discussions of the artworks, both in the gallery and out of doors, on the themes of winter’s aesthetics, ephemerality, nostalgic influences, and climate change.