The Hancock Shaker Village collection, begun in 1960, has grown through purchase, gift, and bequest to become the largest documented and representative collection of Shaker artifacts available to the public at an original restored Shaker site. Portions of the extensive private collections of Faith and Edward Deming Andrews and Lawrence K. and Amy Bess Miller provided the core of Hancock’s collections. Additional purchases were made over the years, including a 300-object collection from the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities in the early 1980s. A thirty-four object bequest was made in 1989. New donations and occasional purchases expand the collections each year.
The significance of Hancock’ s collections is evidenced by the variety of constituents who visit the Village each year in addition to the large number of loans made to history and art museums. The broad nature of the museum’s collections provides a source of information for those interested in decorative arts, 19th-century technologies, and the life, architecture, music, and religion of community. An increasing interest in the Shakers is reflected in the dramatic increase in attendance and research since 1985.
Hancock’s collections number over 22,000 objects produced by or associated with the Shakers and collected and preserved by the museum since its founding in 1960.
The collections are divided into seven categories:
- Furniture: 1,000 documented examples of the Shakers’ distinctive form of design
- Tools and Equipment: 3,200 artifacts associated with the Shakers’ community and commercial enterprises
- Household Objects: 3,400 examples of ceramics, glassware, woodenware, tinware, ironware, and basketry, produced by/or used by the Shakers
- Art: 100 objects, including graphics of Shaker buildings and sites, and the largest single collection (25 examples) of “gift” or “spirit” drawings, which rank in the forefront of American art.
- Textiles: 1,200 examples of Shaker costume, domestic textiles, and specialty products made and used by the Shakers or sold to outsiders and other Shaker communities.
- Commercial Graphics: 1,300 artifacts, including labeled seed packages and boxes.
- Archival: 2,000 imprints, 10,000 photographs, plus letters and manuscripts. An ongoing oral history project has produced 35 hours of audio tape from interviews with former community members and local residents who knew the Hancock Shakers.
Gifts and Donations
Hancock Shaker Village is an active collecting institution. The museum continues to collect the finest examples of Shaker design from Hancock and other communities. If you are interested in making a donation to our artifact or education (hands-on) collections, please contact the Curator for more information.
To make an appointment to visit our library or ask a question about artifacts in the Hancock Shaker Village collection please e-mail our Curator.