The barriers come down when you Choose Your Own Shaker Adventure! Go behind closed doors to do and see exactly what interests you! Select ONE of the topics below, your preferred date and time, and our expert staff will create a custom tour that will inform and inspire. Starts at $28 per person for one topic, includes general admission for the day. Expand your experience by adding additional 30 or 60 minute topics. Additional topics can be added for $10/person per topic.
To schedule a Choose Your Own Shaker Adventure Tour, please call the Village at 413.443.0188 x100 between 9am and 4pm, Monday through Friday. After 4pm or on weekends, please leave a voicemail at x115. You may also contact us by email to schedule your tour.
Shaker Spirituality 101
Discussion of basic Shaker religious beliefs and spiritual life. Learn about the dual godhead, second coming of “the Christ” and Shaker worship styles and practices.
Turn on the Turbine
Learn about the Shakers’ 1858 water powered turbine in the Laundry & Machine Shop, and its relevance for today’s discussions on green energy and sustainability. Operate the turbine and belt-driven woodworking machines with the instruction of HSV staff.
Learn a Shaker Song and Dance
Join HSV staff at the 1793 Meetinghouse where the Shakers worshipped. Learn a selection of easy, simple to perform Shaker songs and dances that were part of their worship services.
Make a Seasonal Recipe
Use produce from the HSV farm and gardens to create a simple Shaker treat in our 1830 kitchen. Come back after your tour is over to see it come out of the oven and enjoy!
An overview of Shaker architecture, including some significant Hancock buildings, such as the Brick Dwelling, Round Stone Barn, and some of the workshops. Or, choose the buildings that interest you for an in-depth examination of the Shakers’ built environment.
Take an in-depth tour of the medicinal herb gardens and see objects related to the Shakers’ extensive herb industry. Learn about the many common and uncommon herbs the Shakers cultivated or harvested wild.
Lead a friendly young calf around the village with the HSV farm staff, and learn about its life on the Shaker farm.
Former Village Buildings
Walk around the grounds with our staff and look for clues (hidden and not so hidden) that reveal the locations of many former Shaker buildings that comprised a much more densely built environment than you see today.
Hancock Shaker Village has a substantial artifact collection that is not on view to the general public. Get behind the barriers and into storage areas with this variety of collections focused tours. Some discussion will center around what makes an object “Shaker” (or not).
This can be a general overview of types of furniture the Shakers used and made, such as chairs, candlestands, tailoring counters, and case pieces, or it can focus in on a few styles – depending on your interests.
Collections: Hancock Shaker Village has a substantial artifact collection that is not on view to the general public. Get behind the barriers and into storage areas with this variety of collections focused tours. Some discussion will center around what makes an object “Shaker” (or not).
This can be a general overview of types of textiles the Shakers used and made, such as cloaks, mittens, bonnets, vests, “fancy work,” towels, and pincushions, or it can focus in on a few styles – depending on your interests.
Collections: Shaker Inventions/Innovations
Discuss the inventions and patents that are credited to the Shakers and also some myths and legends about their creations. Topics include: flat brooms, clothespins, seed packages, circular saw, round barns, steel nib pens, washing machines and many more.
Oval Boxes and Woodenware
See real oval boxes in the collection and meet with an HSV boxmaker to discuss how and why oval boxes became a Shaker icon. See other types of small woodenware that the Shakers used in their homes, shops and farms.
See the variety of manuscripts, gifts drawings and journals that form the basis of our archival and library collections. This also includes photographs, ephemera, and maps to name just a few more items that you can see and handle.
Rules and Regulations
What are the Shakers’ Millennial Laws and how did they really affect Shaker daily life? Did their bedsteads really have to be painted green? Did they always start up the stairs with their right foot first? Discuss with HSV staff to learn more.
Shaker and Diet
Did the Shakers ever use alcohol? Were they vegetarians or did they eat meat? Come learn about Shaker diet over the years, including some facts that may surprise you.
Shaker Children in a Celibate Society
Learn about how children came to be in Shaker communities, their lives, and what happened if they chose to make their way in the “World.” In addition, why would anyone choose to live in a celibate society?
Shaker and Social Justice
Slavery, pacifism, poverty, gender and racial equality: learn how the Shakers were progressive thinkers and doers for their times.
Who Was Mother Lee Ann Anyway?
Learn about how an illiterate English woman became the founder of the Shakers, and a spiritual leader who, to the Believers, was on the same level with Jesus Christ.
Pick a Building
Is there one particular building at Hancock that you’ve always wanted to see more in-depth? Let us know, and HSV staff will take you into all the nooks and crannies to investigate.
Learn about the Native Americans who inhabited these lands before European settlers arrived, and about how Shakers interacted with them (such as herbal remedies and basketry). Read accounts from Shaker journals about Native Americans who appeared in Shaker worship services as spiritual visions or manifestations.
Many archaeological sites at the village have revealed surprises about Shaker life over the years. Learn about the studies the village has completed and see some artifacts that have been uncovered.
Hancock’s Outlying “Families”
Take a quick and informative tour of some of the outlying areas or “families” that once comprised a much-larger HSV than you see today. The present museum’s buildings and grounds were called the Church “Family” by the Shakers. Each outlying “family” will take about a half an hour to visit. Choose one or all 4: North, West, South, Second & East
Shaker, Quaker, or Amish?
Come learn about the similarities and differences between these religious groups. Are they all celibate? Do they all shun modern technologies? Do they all make oatmeal?
Shaker School Lesson
Learn like a Shaker in our interactive 19th century Shaker one-room schoolhouse activities including writing/penmanship, reading, and arithmetic with an emphasis on cooperative learning with age-appropriate activities for pre-K through high school.
Learn how the Shakers valued their natural resources long before the rest of society did. Focuses can be on solar power, water power “green” architecture or sustainable agriculture.
Introductions to HSV
Enjoy an orientation to HSV including overviews of Round Stone Barn, Brick Dwelling, and a brief history.
This hike is an easy/beginner level hike, which is on the accessible Farm & Forest Trail opened in 2007. Please wear appropriate footware.
See the Village through the eyes of a Shaker child, from how they lived and played to where they went to school! Don a Shaker bonnet or straw hat and walk in the footsteps of the children who lived at Hancock.
Attics and Basements
Peek into the nooks and crannies of rarely seen areas of our Laundry & Machine Shop, Brethren’s Shop or Trustees Office & Store. Get behind the scenes in some of HSV’s most significant historic buildings, learning about the Shakers’ architecture and material culture.
Is there another Shaker-related topic that you are interested in that you did not see in this list of tours?