Shelburne Museum is a museum of art, design, and Americana located in Shelburne, Vermont, United States. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in 38 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the Museum grounds. It is located on 45 acres (18 ha) near Lake Champlain.
Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, decorative arts, furniture, American paintings, and an array of 17th- to 20th-century artifacts are on view. Shelburne is home to collections of 19th-century American folk art, quilts, 19th- and 20th-century decoys (see Waterfowl decoy collecting), and carriages.
Electra Havemeyer Webb was a pioneering collector of American folk art and founded Shelburne Museum in 1947. The daughter of Henry Osborne Havemeyer and Louisine Elder Havemeyer, important collectors of Impressionism, European and Asian art, she exercised an independent eye and passion for art, artifacts, and architecture celebrating a distinctly American aesthetic.
When creating the Museum she took the step of collecting 18th and 19th century buildings from New England and New York in which to display the Museum's holdings, relocating 20 historic structures to Shelburne. These include houses, barns, a meeting house, a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge, and the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga.
In Shelburne Mrs. Webb sought to create "an educational project, varied and alive." Shelburne's collections are exhibited in a village-like setting of historic New England architecture, accented by a landscape that includes over 400 lilacs, a circular formal garden, herb and heirloom vegetable gardens, and perennial gardens.
In 2013, the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education was opened with two galleries, an auditorium and classroom, transforming the institution from seasonal (mid-May through October) to year-round operation. While the main campus operates seasonally, the Pizzagalli Center and Museum Store are open year-round.
The core of the collection was formed by Electra Havemeyer Webb, a pioneering collector of American folk art who founded Shelburne Museum. Mrs. Webb exchanged ideas with other major early collectors, including Katherine Prentis Murphy, Henry and Helen Flynnt and Henry Francis du Pont (who founded Winterthur Museum and credited Mrs. Webb with inspiring him to collect American decorative arts).
Since Mrs. Webb’s death in 1960, the collections have developed with an emphasis on folk art and contemporary art as it relates to the collection. Artifacts provide insight into the craftsmanship and artistic quality of objects made and used by three centuries of Americans. Visitors experience these objects in galleries and period rooms and through interactive exhibitions and demonstrations. Transportation, farming and trade artifacts illustrate America’s industrial development from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. These collections are increasingly relevant to regional audiences from varied backgrounds as the economic base of the community shifts away from farming and small-scale production.
Shelburne Museum’s purpose is to enrich people’s lives through art, history and culture. The collection of approximately 150,000 objects is one of the most extensive and varied collections in the US and is notable for its great range, quality and depth. The outstanding collections of fine, folk and decorative art celebrate American ingenuity, creativity and craftsmanship.