The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, USA is the best museum in the world to see Americana. It is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Young and old. It is that good!
Spread out over 46 picturesque acres, Shelburne is home to a collection of 150,000 artifacts from the 18th,19th and 20th centuries. Impressionist and American paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, decorative arts, toys, dolls, doll houses, ceramics, sleighs, carriages, furniture, tools, and marine items are displayed in 39 exhibition buildings, of which, 25 are historic.
Each collection houses large amounts of similar items. Nothing here comes up short …….and at the top of my favourite collection list is ….the circus and carnival collection.
A specially made building in the round was created for the circus memorabilia. You walk in a tunnel like room (about 6 feet wide) entering at one end of the circle coming out at the other. (as if you were walking inside a large snake).
A beautifully made small scale circus parade with coaches, animals, and people is encased in the wall and goes the full length of the building on one side. THE PHOTOS REPRESENT ONE TINY SECTION.
On the other side of the room, vintage circus posters from Victorian days up to the 1920’s and 30’s are hung along the full length of the building. The posters are chromolithographs * (see below), an early type of printing and are in amazing condition.
A video with actual footage from a turn of the century circus parade runs continuously.
The next photo is a circus in miniature. Originally handcrafted for his children, this amazing exhibit was made by Edgar Decker Kirk. There are 3500 pieces to this collection. Imagine the work that went into this unique masterpiece! (not all in the picture).
A huge barn beside this round building, houses Victorian carousel horses. Included in the exhibit are some extravagantly decorated carousel benches that the ladies with their fancy dresses, would have rode the carousel on.. Fabulous hand painted art that would have adorned carousels and carnivals is hung on the walls.
A working 1920’s carousel is also found outside for the children to ride on. They even hand out popcorn!
* WIKI – Chromolithography…Each color in the image must be separately drawn onto a new stone or plate and applied to the paper one at a time. It was not unusual for twenty to twenty-five stones to be used on a single image. Each sheet of paper will therefore pass through the printing press as many times as there are colors in the final print. In order that each color is placed in the right position in each print, each stone or plate must be precisely ‘registered,’ or lined up, on the paper using a system of register marks.
Please come back tomorrow for the continuation (part 2) of the Shelburne Museum. I will take you on a tour of some of the other exhibits, including the railway station, Big Bear lodge, and the doll collection. There will be a part 3, but it will be one special exhibit – that you won’t believe!
(After 5 trips to Shelburne, I am so excited to share this with you, so I hope you enjoy the series).
HAVE YOU BEEN TO SHELBURNE? and if so WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE EXHIBIT?