Logo   Shelburne Museum, Shelburne VT
Visitors to Burlington VT must make a detour south to the town of Shelburne to see the Shelburne Museum, a gala festival of Americana.

Colchester Reef Lighthouse, Shelburne Museum, Vermont
Colchester Reef Lighthouse


The Shelburne Museum, 7.5 miles (12 km) south of Burlington, Vermont (map), has 37 historic buildings arranged on 45 acres, include an authentic one-room schoolhouse, six fully furnished early New England homes, a jail complete with stocks, an Adirondack hunting lodge, a print shop, and a lighthouse that once guided ships on Lake Champlain.

The structures date from the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. Each was moved here from its original location in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, or Massachusetts, and all are now filled with the artifacts of earlier American life.

There's obviously too much to see in one day, so plan your visit. Luckily, your admission ticket is valid for two days. Green Mountain Transit's Chittenden County Blue Line buses connect the museum with Burlington's Downtown Transit Center at Pearl and St Paul streets.

The Shelburne Museum is said to have about the best and fullest collection of Americana ever assembled.

Among the artifacts are a 1920s carousel, a round dairy barn (1901), a wonderful circus museum, and even the huge 220-foot sidewheel steamship SS Ticonderoga, docked here after its last run on the lake.

s/s Ticonderoga at Shelburne Museum, Vermont
SS Ticonderoga: not a model, a full-sized ship. Climb aboard!

Displays of folk art are both charming and authentic: quilts, decoys, glassware, and furniture, plus the tools used to make these items.

Fine Art Galleries

Pizzagalli Center

The Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education is a modern gallery for changing exhibits in two fine galleries.

Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building

Ms Electra Havemeyer Webb, founder of the Shelburne Museum, arranged for the pre-Impressionist and Impressionist collection of her parents, Louisine and Henry O Havemeyer, to be hung in six 1930s period rooms moved here from the Havemeyers' New York City apartment.

Thus a visit to the Memorial Building is a double treat: among the sumptuous furnishings of a wealthy family's home of a century ago, you'll see works by Mary Cassatt, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Charles-François Daubigny, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, and Claude Monet.

Several of these paintings were first exhibited in Paris in the famed Impressionist Exhibitions of the 1870s and ’80s.

Webb Gallery

On rotating exhibition in the modern Webb Gallery (1960) are 19th-century American paintings of Hudson River School landscapes, Luminist seascapes, portraits, still-lifes, and genre scenes including works by Albert Bierstadt, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Cole, John Singleton Copley, Martin Johnson Heade, Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson, John Kensett, Fitz Henry Lane, John Peto, and John Quidor.

20th-century paintings are by Andrew Wyeth, Grandma Moses, and Carl Rungius.

Nancy & William Lawson, by William Matthew Prior, Shelburne Museum, Vermont
Nancy & William Lawson, by William Matthew Prior (1843)...

Pleissner Gallery

Manchester, Vermont artist Ogden Minton Pleissner (1905-1983) was a WWII artist for LIFE magazine as well as a landscape and sporting arts painter. Pleissner Gallery, built in 1986, features 40 of the Museum’s 600 Pleissner works in a rotating exhibition.

The museum has a cafeteria and snack bars, picnic tables, a bookshop, stores, and free parking.

Shelburne Museum
6000 Shelburne Road (map)
Shelburne VT 05482
Tel: 802-985-3346

—by Tom Brosnahan

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Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Shaker Round Barn, Shelburne Museum VT

The Shaker Round Barn at Shelburne Museum, south of Burlington VT.

Carousel, Shelburne Museum, Vermont

The carousel by the Circus Gallery:
just the place for the youngest visitors...

Bird's Eye View of Burlington, Vermont, by Charles L Heyde, Shelburne Museum, Vermont
Bird's Eye View of Burlington, Vermont, by Charles L Heyde, Shelburne Museum, Vermont.

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