Shelburne Museum in Vermont

Last Updated on March 24, 2023 by Ellen Christian

Check out my trip to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. Learn more about the museum of art and Americana and the famous Havemeyer quilts that are displayed here.

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Shelburne Museum in Vermont

Shelburne Museum in Vermont

The Shelburne Museum in Vermont is a museum of art and Americana containing over 150,000 works displayed in 39 buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the museum grounds.

 The museum contains impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, decorative arts, furniture, American paintings, and a wonderful selection of 17th-to 20th-century artifacts.

 The founder, Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960), was a pioneering collector of American folk art and founded Shelburne Museum in 1947.

A colonial scene at Shelburne Museum

I have been visiting the Shelburne Museum every summer for over twenty years.  I have always been fascinated by historical life and the Shelburne Museum has allowed me a brief look back into history to see how real people lived.

When I was in college, we visited the Shelburne Museum every week as part of my Visual Studies class to learn about the impressionist paintings in the museum.  

Those visits ignited a love for Renoir and Monet that still holds true today.  The Shelburne Museum is so much more than a collection of artwork.

Shelburne Museum in Vermont

Steamboat Ticonderoga

When the kids were little, we visited the Steamboat Ticonderoga which is a restored 220-foot steamboat, a National Historic Landmark and the last walking beam side-wheel passenger steamer in existence. I have wonderful memories of the kids looking through the steamboat at the massive engine while I marveled at the gorgeous staterooms.

Another area the kids loved to visit was the circus building and the carousel.  Now, there is an Owl Cottage Family Activity center where the kids can do arts and crafts.

Shelburne Museum in Vermont

The most interesting part of the Shelburne Museum for me has always been wandering through the authentic historic buildings. There is a general store that lets you see the types of things people used to buy at the store before there were prepared foods and laundry detergent on the shelves.

You can see an authentic schoolhouse where the kids would have gone to learn their ABCs and 123s. I love visiting the Blacksmith Shop where a reenactor is pounding horsehoes over the fire.  

In the weaving shop, you can watch a woman weave on a giant loom and in the print shop, you can see how they put words to print before the day of computers and glossy magazines.

Hat and Fragrance Library Shelburne Museum

Shelburne Museum Gardens

Another of my favorite areas of the Shelburne Museum are the gardens.  The hat and fragrance garden above contains a variety of flowers that were used to make scents including one of my favorites, bee balm.

There is a memorial peony garden, a heritage garden and several other themed gardens on the property that you can walk through.  You can visit the sawmill and the Beach Gallery that contains 18th and 19th century firearms.

Stop by the covered bridge, the railroad complex and the lighthouse while you’re there. Don’t forget to visit the jail which was relocated from Castleton, Vermont (where I live today).

a colorful quilt

Exhibits at the Shelburne Museum

In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum has a number of exhibits that are temporary.  These change regularly so you should check their website to see what is available when you’re planning to visit.  

While I visited with my Mom, we were able to view a gorgeous quilt exhibit.  I particularly loved the quilt by Velda Newman featured below.

No trip to the area would be complete without visiting the Shelburne Museum.  You could easily spend the day there and not run out of things to see and do.  

There is something for everyone including, children, men and women. Just grab a map and wander around or take the shuttle if you’d prefer not to walk as much.  No need to leave the Museum for meals as there is a cafe to buy meals, drinks or ice cream.


Havemeyer Quilt

The Shelburne Museum is known internationally for its exceptional variety and quality of collection, which includes particularly strong holdings from 19th-century Vermont.

In recognition to the founder’s vision that quilts be recognized as works art in themselves Mrs Electra Havemeyer Webb founded this museum with over 400 historic bedcoverings early on—a nucleus she built up through many additional donations before establishing it around 1960 when there were already some well established collections elsewhere but no such dedicated space had ever existed within New England borders until then!

As a Vermont native, she was inspired by the landscape and architecture of her home. She would often mix different patterns from one piece to another in order create displays that were both cohesive but didn’t quite seem like they should go together at first glance – this style had an immense impact on Shelburne Museum’s graphic design as well!

6000 Shelburne Road
PO Box 10
Shelburne, VT 05482

Fore more photos, please enjoy this slideshow. Click an image to see it full size.

Thank you to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont for sponsoring our day at the museum and providing media tickets.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.

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8 thoughts on “Shelburne Museum in Vermont”

  1. Those pics make me sure wish that I lived close to that museum.  We don't have anything like that close to me.  What a shame as I love history!

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