Days of Youth: The Lives of Shaker Children
April 15 – November 12, 2017
This new exhibition is a lively look at children who grew up with the Shakers, and explores what it was like to live in a closed celibate community dedicated to principled living. Themes cover play, school, clothing, and work among others. The exhibition includes period photographs, furniture, textiles, toys and many artifacts never before exhibited. Detailed biographies of eight children from different villages add to the first-hand accounts of Shaker childhood. Also included is an interactive Shaker portrait, where visitors can learn about a child’s daily schedule, innovations, and United States geography as it relates to the Shaker communities.
GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY: an Anonymous donor, The Dobbins Foundation, and Richard and Carol Seltzer
Exhibits within our historic buildings
In their quest to live in a heaven on earth, the Shakers created a distinctive material world. Unique dwellings housed men and women whose labors produced the furniture, textiles, and agricultural and household equipment in what we now call Shaker style. Spared from the ornamentation seen in worldly goods, the objects made by Shaker hands exhibit clean lines and functional grace. The beauty of Shaker style resides in its purity of design.
Fifty room-setting exhibitions are offered within the Village. These exhibitions accent the full range of Shaker daily life and show the Village’s collection as the Shakers would have used it. In the Brick Dwelling, you will see an infirmary with hospital beds, adults’ cradles and 19th-century medical equipment. In the Sisters’ Dairy and Weave Loft, you will see looms, spinning wheels and butter churns.
As you explore the Village’s buildings you will see the premier collection of Shaker furniture, crafts and tools. You will see traditional Shaker design – oval boxes, peg rails, quintessential Shaker chairs. You will also see things that surprise you – brightly painted furniture, a delicate child’s high chair. Room settings within the Village’s historic buildings allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the role these objects played in the daily life of the Shakers.