In September of 2015, we spent about a week at Apple Island RV Resort on the shores of Lake Champlain. One of the highlights of our stay was a visit to the Shelburne Museum, one of the nation’s most popular depositories of eclectic American artifacts. The museum’s collections are housed in 38 separate buildings, most of which are historic buildings which were brought to Shelburn for use by the museum. Click on an image and then use the arrows to navigate through the slideshow.
Another interesting exhibit was of carriage, carts and sleighs…all used in Vermont before the automobile became widely available.
The Circus Collection was the one that initially attracted me to the museum. For years, I’d heard about the collection of circus posters, a type of art I’ve collected and very much enjoy. But I didn’t realize until we arrived that the Circus Collection was more than just an extraordinary collection of posters. Specifically, there are two collections of carved circus figures. The first depicts, on a one inch to one foot scale, the traditional circus parade. The parade begins at the train station where the circus has arrived, and proceeds miles across town to the circus grounds. These elaborate parades are a fading as an American tradition, but they’ll never be forgotten by anyone who has a chance to see this collection. Thousands of intricately carved carts, animals, trainers, clowns, horses, elephants and lions and tigers are displayed in a 500 foot long exhibit, under glass at the Shelburne. The second of the two collections of carved circus memorabilia is entitled something like “Under the Big Tent.” Again, many hundreds of thousands of carved figures depict not just the circus ring, but also the huge audience in the bleachers.
The Ticonderoga Riverboat, a steamship on Lake Champlain for many years, has been retired from service and was carefully transported to the museum in a true feat of ingenuity.
Some of the other exhibits we saw included early American paintings, furniture and firearms. Again, if you ever have a chance to be in Vermont and visit the Shelburne Museum, don’t miss the chance to do so.