The Shelburne is easily one of the country’s most unique and thematically diverse museums; it’s more like a theme park, in fact, than a typical museum. Founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb and fueled by her private art collection, the Shelburne grew remarkably quickly; its collection is now over 150,000 pieces strong and features Impressionist paintings, furniture, quilts, textiles, and, especially, American folk art.
What’s particularly interesting about the Shelburne is that the museum is housed in 39 separate buildings, spread out over 45 acres not far from Lake Champlain. Of these 39 buildings, twenty date from 18th and 19th-century New England and New York, and the displays and exhibits in each building reflect the purpose for which it was constructed (for instance, Shaker Shed houses the museum’s vast collection of hand tools, and the one-room Schoolhouse recreates a typical rural school of the 19th Century.) The museum’s grounds are also replete with gardens – more than twenty of them, all of which are cared for organically, without the use of pesticides. These, too, follow themes: the Dyer’s Garden contains herbs and plants that were traditionally used for fabric dyes; the Apothecary Garden, plants for health and well-being; the Webb Gallery garden is replanted each season to reflect the exhibit on display in the gallery.
Educational opportunities for kids and families abound at the Shelburne; the museum offers hands-on learning at the Owl Cottage Activity Center, an Art Safari for preschoolers, and daily demonstrations at the Blacksmith, Weaving and Print shops. (JM)
Shelburne Museum Information
- Public Transportation: Good (steps from CCTA bus 6 at the Shelburne Museum stop)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good. A wheelchair accessible shuttle bus provides transportation around the Museum
- Hours: The Museum is open from mid-May to the end of October, Monday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday noon–5 p.m. Open Thursdays until 7:30 p.m. from mid-June – mid-August
- Admission: $20 Adults, $10 Children (5–18), Free for Children (under 5) and Museum Members. The Family Day Pass is $50 and is good for two adults and their children (ages 5–18). Vermont residents receive a 50% discount. Half-price admission after 4 p.m. from mid-June through mid-August (except on Thursdays)
- Tour: Tours are available for groups of 15 or more from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. Groups receive discounted admission of $15 per person. Meal tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children (5–18)
- Membership: Individual membership is $45 (Dual $65, Family $75). Member benefits include unlimited free admission to the Museum, including the Sunsets at Shelburne Museum summer evening series and Family Days; a 10% discount at the Museum Store and Café; invitations to Members-only lectures, parties, and exhibition openings; reduced admission for out-of-state-guests; free admission to open house events at the Brick House, and discounts on classes and workshops.