Center for Art and Education inaugural exhibition celebrates vision

Hat and bandboxes (detail) 1825-50, Shelburne Museum.                                                                          Image by J. David Bohl

Hat and bandboxes (detail) 1825-50, Shelburne Museum.
Image by J. David Bohl

When Shelburne Museum opens the doors to its future with the Center for Art and Education on Aug. 18, the museum will celebrate its past with an inaugural exhibition that pays homage to visionary founder Electra Havemeyer Webb.

“Color, Pattern, Whimsy, Scale: The Best of Shelburne Museum” is an exhibition of nearly 100 works from the permanent collection including, paintings, folk art, furniture, wallpapers, decorative arts, textiles, costumes, and many other forms. It will feature both well-known masterpieces and surprising treasures in Shelburne Museum’s collections.

The exhibition’s opening coincides with the grand opening of the Center for Art and Education, which features galleries, an auditorium and classroom space, and transforms the museum from seasonal to year-round public access.

“Color, Pattern, Whimsy, Scale” organizes Shelburne Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb’s pioneering collecting vision into  four design themes that strongly informed her and characterize the collections of Shelburne Museum,” said Director Thomas Denenberg. “Without her passion for collecting and imaginative approach, Shelburne Museum would not be here today, and our understanding of Americana and American design would be much different.”

Electra Havemeyer Webb grew up in an extraordinary New York mansion designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Samuel Colman. According to the Havemeyer family biographer Frances Weitzenhoffer, “Each room was an imaginative composition of seemingly incongruous elements that, when placed together, spun a shimmering web.” The sense of colors and textures, diverse materials and the myriad patterns all contributed to the developing connoisseurship that young Electra would apply to the works she would later avidly acquire.

Her collecting appetite was voracious and she filled every possible space in her households in Long Island, New York City, and Vermont. “Some people have the place and find the piece,” she said. “Not I. I buy the piece and find the place.”

Color, Pattern, Whimsy, Scale: The Best of Shelburne Museum is curated by Senior Curator Jean Burks (color), Curator of Design Kory Rogers (pattern), Curatorial Fellow Sarah Woodbury (whimsy), and Director Thomas Denenberg (scale).  The exhibition is on view through December 31.

About Shelburne Museum:  Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont is one of North America’s finest, most diverse and unconventional museums of art, design and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 38 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the museum’s beautifully landscaped 45-acre campus. For the first time, Shelburne Museum will remain open year-round with the opening of the new Center for Art and Education on August 18.

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