About Hancock Shaker Village
Hancock Shaker Village is a living history museum on 750 tranquil acres in the heart of the Berkshires. A National Historic Landmark, the property includes 20 historic Shaker buildings, including the 1826 Round Barn and 1830 Brick Dwelling, and a working farm with livestock and heirloom gardens. The museum is home to more than 22,000 artifacts including furniture, textiles, hymnals, and everyday goods, making it one of the premier Shaker collections in the world. There’s as much reverence in pulling an onion as there is in singing hallelujah, said one Shaker, and Hancock Shaker Village does a bit of both.
The significance of Hancock Shaker Village’s collections is evidenced by the variety of constituents who visit each year. The broad nature of our collection provides a source of information for those interested in decorative arts, 19th-century technologies, and the community of the Shakers, including their life, architecture, music, and religion. The collection includes:
- 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 second-largest collection (25 examples) of “gift” or “spirit” drawings, which rank at the forefront of American folk 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.
The Shakers settled this land in the Berkshires in 1780, building a vast village that extended over the towns of Hancock, Pittsfield, and Richmond in Western Massachusetts. They called their village the City of Peace and created a value-driven communal society that nurtured goals as far-ranging as gender and racial equality, social reform, sustainability, innovation, and pacifism. Their buildings, furniture, and artifacts emphasized Shaker attitudes toward honesty, utility, and design, and remain a lasting legacy for us today and into the future. The Shakers’ influence on American history, thought, design, and music extended far beyond their relatively small numbers. This influence lives on at Hancock Shaker Village, and is made manifest in the buildings and artifacts they left behind, the exhibitions we present, and our programs that tell a story rooted in the fertile soil of history, imagination, dedication, and beauty. Simply stated, Hancock Shaker Village exists to provide an historic context to the Shaker story, to preserve the site and all it contains for future generations, and to bring this narrative to life in compelling ways.