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News

Spring 2014


Shaker Museum Acquires Land to Expand and Protect Historic Site

The Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon has closed on the North Pastures, a 61-acre parcel of land that originally made up the North Family Shakers' stone-walled farm fields. The purchase was made with assistance from the Open Space Institute, a conservation nonprofit, and New York State.



The expansion of the museum's historic site lays the foundation for the future. Newly acquired land in the North Pastures provides frontage to increase the museum's visibility, and the space required to build a new collections center. The North Pastures are themselves a part of the collection, containing within them the remains of the Shakers' massive stone walls, as well as a memorial carved into a stone, known as "JW Rock." This site marks the spot where, according to accounts Elder James Whitaker was thrown from his horse against the stone as he fled from a persecuting mob.

To learn more about the North Pastures and the museum's expansion plans, click here to read the full press release.

Order Your Copy: From Mount Lebanon to the World

The Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon is excited to announce The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon to the World, set for release July 1.

140416_ShakerCover-HiResThis major new book on Shaker history and material culture is designed as an accompaniment to the upcoming collaborative exhibition of the same name, opening June 14 at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. The exhibit will feature a diverse selection of objects from the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon collection of over 60,000 items.

In addition to extensive new photography of the collection and the Mount Lebanon historic site, the book contains a new essay by noted Shaker scholar Stephen J. Stein, as well as contributions from the living Shakers of Sabbathday Lake, Maine.

 

Richly illustrated with a host of images coveying the breadth and depth of Shaker master craft and design, the book is the product of a collaborative effort between the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon, the Farnsworth, Sabbathday Lake Shakers, and Skira Rizzoli Publishers.

The book will go on sale at the Granary Visitor's Center shop this summer! Until then, we will be accepting pre-orders. Estimated date of shipping arrival is early July. Faster shipping options are available upon request.

$60, plus shipping.

269 pages, Hardcover.

To place an order, visit our online store, or you can send us an email. Make sure to reserve your copy of this special new book today, as quantities are limited!

To learn more about the upcoming exhibit, visit the Farnsworth website.

Shaker Museum Wages Great Stone Barn Adopt-A-Lintel Campaign

The Great Stone Barn at Mount Lebanon's North Family was the largest masonry agricultural structure in America when it was completed in 1860. Even after a devastating fire in 1972 that ravaged nearly the entire interior, the walls and rest of what remains remains as a stunning architectural accomplishment. In 2013, the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon began an ambitious multi-million dollar project to restore it, by stabilizing and rebuilding parts of its walls.

As part of this effort, the museum is undertaking an energetic fundraising campaign to reconstruct and repair the barn's lintels, as well as raise additional funds crucially needed for this project. Now, you can "adopt" a lintel by donating to the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon, and be involved in the restoration of this remarkable Shaker building.

Learn more about the project and how you can by help by clicking here.

Visit our donations page to make a donation now.

You can also help support the museum's work by visiting Mount Lebanon, and by attending our events and programs.

For more information, please contact us.

frieze Reviews Collaborative Shaker Museum Exhibit
The London-based contemporary art magazine frieze reviewed the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon's latest cooperative exhibition for its March 2014 issue. The exhibit, entitled "Simplest Means," opened January 10, 2014 at the Jeff Bailey Gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, and ran through February 22. Combining contemporary pieces from eight artists with Shaker objects pulled from the museum's collection, the show focused on "shared visual affinities between Shaker design and reductive art."

To read the full review, click here. You can also visit the frieze website for more information, and the exhibition website to view more images.


Summer 2013

Museum Wins Design Award From the American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance of Museums' 2013 Museum Publications Design Competition has announced that the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon has been awarded first prize for our Journal , in the category of a general scholarly Journal published by a small museum.  AAM is the country’s largest museum organization and accreditation agency.

Click here to see the entire Journal online.  Or better yet, buy a copy for yourself by contacting shop@shakerml.org

Spring 2012

Shaker Museum and Library becomes Shaker Museum│Mount Lebanon
The Shaker Museum and Library is pleased to announce its name change to the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon.  The new name and identity emphasizes the museum’s strategic relocation and commitment to Mount Lebanon, New York, uniting the most comprehensive collection of Shaker objects and archives with America’s most important Shaker historic site.
 
Mount Lebanon

For 160 years, from 1787 to 1947, the Shakers at Mount Lebanon led the largest and most successful utopian communal society in America. From this central community developed the Shakers’ ideals of equality of labor, gender, and race, as well as communal property, freedom and pacifism. From Mount Lebanon also grew the now famous Shaker aesthetic of simplicity, expressed in their objects, furniture, buildings and village planning.

In 2004 and 2006, the World Monuments Watch named Mount Lebanon as one of the 100 most significant endangered historic sites in the world.  In 2004, the Museum acquired Mount Lebanon Shaker Village’s historic North Family– 10 buildings on 30 acres - with the goal of creating a new museum and cultural center focused on the Shaker legacy.  By 2014, the Museum will complete over $3 million in funded preservation projects, rehabilitating four significant buildings, while restoration of the surrounding landscape is already underway.

The Museum
Founded in 1950 by John S. Williams, Sr., the Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon is the oldest public institution devoted to preserving and interpreting the history and legacy of the Shakers. The collection of Shaker objects is currently housed at its site in Old Chatham, New York.  The library is one of the country’s leading resources for Shaker materials, including manuscripts, photographs, and printed books and pamphlets chronicling over 200 years of Shaker life.
 
Upcoming Events
Guided tours of the Mount Lebanon site will take place for the 2012 season from July 7 – September 3, Saturday through Monday, at 11:30am and 2pm. The tours are free and open to the public.

The Museum’s Summer Benefit Party, A Country Dance and Dinner, will be held on Saturday, July 21, 2012.

Fall/Winter 2011 BROADSIDE:

The Shaker Museum and Library Newsletter

Please click here to read the Museum's current newsletter.

2011

Kindred Aesthetics: Ellsworth Kelly

The Shaker Museum and Library celebrates Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Shear and their contributions to the Museum. Celebrated with the short film Kindred Aesthetics and a dinner in their honor where Ellsworth committed his personal collection to be donated to the museum in the future.

Museum on the Move:

We're Shaking it Up

The Museum is in transition, relocating to the Shakers' North Family at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, a National Historic Landmark site. 

The Shaker Museum and Library is committed to interpreting for the public is unparalleled collection and the historic site to tell the vital story of America's Shakers as it prepares to relocate the Museum from Old Chatham to Mount Lebanon..  Mount Lebanon was home to the Central Ministry and governing community for the Shaker movement from 1787 to 1947. 

2010

Shaker Museum Receives $400,000 in Grants for North Family historic site

NEW LEBANON, NY (December 6)-- The Shaker Museum and Library recently received two grants totaling $400,000 that will help fund the exterior restoration and stabilization of the historic Brethren’s Workshop at the Museum’s North Family site at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation has awarded the Museum a $300,000 grant under its Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) program, and an anonymous donor has contributed $100,000 to fund the Museum’s internship program in preservation construction trades conducted at the Brethren’s Workshop.

The North Family site, next to the Darrow School in New Lebanon, will eventually house the Shaker Museum’s extensive collection of Shaker artifacts. The latest grants have put the museum within reach of completing its first phase of historic preservation at the site – addressing the priority needs of stabilizing the structures.

“With the EPF grant, we have now largely funded the needs identified as the highest priority at the site, such as keeping water out of the structures, stabilizing foundations and repairing roofs – the buildings’ exterior envelopes,” explained Museum President David Stocks. “The Brethren’s workshop is the last major building in our priority one group. We still need $100,000 to complete the stabilization work on the Brethren’s Workshop, but these latest grants allow us to begin work preserving that building.”

Earlier this year the Shaker Museum and Library received another $400,000 EPF grant, for the purpose of stabilizing the Great Stone Barn, the centerpiece of the North Family Site. 

“It’s unusual to get back-to-back grants from the EPF and we’re very honored,” noted Stocks. In the past 20 months, the Museum has raised more than $1.5 million in preservation funds. “Even given the economic downturn, we’ve been fortunate to enjoy support from generous donors and to be awarded numerous grants. The success is a tribute most of all to the cultural and historic importance of the site.”

The North Family site has twice been designated by the World Monuments Fund as one of the 100 most significant endangered historic sites in the world. For 150 years, from 1787 to its closing in 1947, Mount Lebanon was the principal Shaker community, and the North Family was its face to the outside world.

The 1829 Brethren’s Workshop was the most important industrial building in the North Family. The 13,000-sf brick building was built with a two-story internal waterwheel, which was connected to a vast network of ponds and aqueducts and powered an array of machinery throughout the building. In 2009, Shaker Museum and Library inaugurated a partnership with North Bennet Street School in Boston to offer a preservation trades internship program. Students from the school’s two-year preservation carpentry program live on-site for two months in the summer and work on the Brethren’s Workshop as they undertake advanced training in the restoration of historic structures. The $100,000 gift will fund the program for the next two years, Stocks said.

“Our hope is to establish the Brethren’s Workshop as the Center for Preservation Trades, and for the North Family to continue to be a site of learning and discovery,” he added. “The Museum owns a huge collection of Shaker tools and machinery as well, so offering preservation trades training fits together with our collections and our education mission as well.”

The next step in moving the Museum to New Lebanon will entail planning and constructing facilities to house the institution’s collection.

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The November 2010 Shaker Museum and Library newsletter (pdf format).

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To watch the trailer for a documentary film of the Historic American Landscapes Survey project undertaken at Mount Lebanon in 2009, click here

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To access an archive of our email communications, click here

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Shaker Museum and Library Offers Unique, In-Depth Tour of Historic Village

NEW LEBANON, NY (September 13)– A rare, behind-the-scenes look at historic Shaker buildings, many of them not typically open to the public, is being hosted by the Shaker Museum and Library at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.

On Saturday, Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors can tour up to 10 buildings on foot or by shuttle during the tour, titled “Inside Mount Lebanon.” They can spend as long as they like, with a range of ticket prices available depending upon what participants choose. The event is a fundraiser for the Shaker Museum and Library.

Mount Lebanon was the Central Ministry and largest settlement of America’s Shakers from 1787 to 1947 and is a National Historic Landmark. Mount Lebanon has been named by the World Monuments Fund as one of the world’s most significant endangered historic sites, and the Museum has undertaken a long-term, multimillion dollar project to preserve its portion of the landmark, known as the North Family.

Originally, the site on a New Lebanon hillside was home to up to 600 members in eight Shaker “families,” divisions created by the Shakers. The land was later divided and parts are now home to the Darrow School and the Abode of the Message, and the Shaker buildings have a variety of current uses. Both those organizations as well as private homeowners are opening buildings and homes for the tour.

“This event offers an opportunity to experience the historic size and layout of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and how it grew and changed,” said David Stocks, Museum president. “The division the Shakers made into family units will be a highlight of this tour - most family groupings at Shaker sites have disappeared.  On this tour will be buildings in the North, Church, Center, and South Families.  This tour is a great way to understand how the Shakers’ Families operated and were both connected and separated.” 

Docents at each house and building and a tour guidebook will provide information on the building’s Shaker history and current use. The Museum will have a shop open with Shaker inspired and one-of-a-kind gifts, and visitors may also tour a Shaker herb garden and the Joline Arts Center and innovative Samson Environmental Center at Darrow School.

“You can make a day of it or spend an hour,” said Lauree Hickok, co-chairperson of the event committee.

Tickets purchased by Oct. 1 will be discounted $10. Ticket prices are: Patron Tickets, $125, including cocktail reception on Friday evening at a Mount Lebanon home not on the tour, introductory lecture Saturday 10 am, the tour, and box lunch; Lecture Tickets, $75, including introductory lecture, the tour, and box lunch; advance tour tickets, $30 ($40 at door); and box lunches, $20 (available by advanced purchase only).

For more information visit the Shaker Museum and Library website at www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org or call (518) 794-9100.

 

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RPI Project Takes New Look at Shaker Design;

Public Welcome to Discussion, Book Signing

 

NEW LEBANON, NY  (August 30)– The public is invited to a special presentation that takes a new look at Shaker design, thanks to architecture students from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy. The students participated in a semester-long studio project examining how Shaker objects and inventions remain influential in the design realm, and they created hypothetical architectural projects using this examination.

The presentation, “Material Manifestations: The Legacy of the Shakers,” is hosted by the Shaker Museum and Library and will be held Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Tannery building at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, on the Darrow School campus in New Lebanon. The presentation begins at 10 a.m. and includes the launch of a book that evolved from the RPI project. Admission is free, with books available for purchase.

“It should be a very interesting presentation,” said David Stocks, president of Shaker Museum and Library. “The project was a modern way to look at Shaker objects and see, in detail, how Shaker design can influence architects of the future. Instead of what we normally do in a museum - tell the history of people through objects - this project involved taking the objects and seeing how they might influence the future.”

In the spring, second-year architecture students from RPI spent a semester studying and reinterpreting Shaker design, including visits to the Shaker Museum and Library’s North Family site at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Mass. Each student chose a Shaker object, drew the object and analyzed it. The items came from the entire spectrum of Shaker inventions – baskets, furniture, machines and accessories.

“The main intentions of the studio were to get beyond the strong iconic notions of the Shaker society and artifacts and to analyze their material design culture through the lens of performance,” explained Andrew Saunders, the RPI instructor for the course. “In essence, the work relies much less on what the artifacts look like and much more on how they perform.”

For their midterm, the students referenced the Historic American Landscapes Survey of the North Family site, conducted by the National Parks Service in 2009. Using the detailed topographical drawings produced by the Survey, they designed a hypothetical Shaker dance pavilion for 2010 at the North Family and created models of their designs.

During the second half of the semester, the RPI students continued their analysis and designed a hypothetical 10,000-sf archives and exhibition center for the Shaker Museum on the same site, complete with scale models.

“This architectural approach is not attempting to communicate through the iconic and symbolic language of the Shakers, but instead engages contemporary society by expanding the unique cultural and material affects found in the Shaker artifacts,” Saunders noted.

For the final review, the students presented their work to a jury which included Stocks and Jeff Daly, president of the Shaker Museum’s Board of Trustees. The Sept. 11 event will include a scaled-down re-enactment of the jury presentation.

For information on the Shaker Museum and Library such as exhibitions, events and how to become a member, visit their website, www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org or call (518) 794-9100.

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CALENDAR LISTING:

Saturday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m., Tannery building, Darrow School, New Lebanon, NY - Shaker Museum and Library and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s School of Architecture present “Material Manifestations: The Legacy of the Shakers,” an exhibit, book launch, and discussion from RPI students who conducted a semester-long study of Shaker artifacts. Free.

 

Shaker Museum and Library August Events Celebrate Shaker History

NEW LEBANON, NY (August 6)--During August, the Shaker Museum and Library will host two events where the public can learn more about the Shakers’ historical influence. The Museum also invites the public to help clean and restore the Shakers’ North Family site during a landscape volunteer day.

On Monday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m., the Museum, together with the Lebanon Valley Historical Society, present the lecture “Seats of Shaker Innovation: The Peculiar Grace of a Shaker Chair.”

Shaker chairs have inspired a host of manufacturers, designers and artists, whether as a source for Danish modern design; as a subject of painting, photographs, and sculpture; or simply as a popular product to be copied. Sharon Koomler, an author and lecturer on Shaker life and furniture, will explore the stories of these influences. Noted Shaker furniture scholar Tim Rieman will discuss examples of chairs from the Museum’s collection and elsewhere.

The Shaker chair lecture will be held in the North Family Forge building at Mount Lebanon, next to the Darrow School in the town of New Lebanon. Cost is $5; free for Museum and Lebanon Valley Historical Society members. “Seats of Shaker Innovation” is made possible by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.

On Saturday, Aug. 21, the public is invited to join the community in helping to clean up and restore the North Family landscape. The landscape cleanup involves clearing out invasive plants from around the historic buildings and helping to restore landscape features and will run from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, contact David Stocks, 518-794=9100 ext 218.

The Shaker Museum’s final August event will be a video and book signing on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. Author Roderick Bradford will be on hand to screen his new one-hour video and discuss his book  “D.M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker.”

The book is about D.M. Bennett and his wife Mary Wicks - both former Mount Lebanon Shakers - who founded the “blasphemous” New York City free thought periodical The Truth Seeker.  Bennett’s courageous fight for freedom of speech, supported by the Shakers, went all the way to the White House.

The book signing will be held at the North Family Granary building, also at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village next to Darrow School. Admission is $5; free for Museum members. Books will be available for purchase.

EVENT LISTINGS:

Monday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m., Shaker Museum and Library and Lebanon Valley Historical Society present the lecture “Seats of Shaker Innovation: The Peculiar Grace of a Shaker Chair.” At North Family Forge building at Mount Lebanon, Darrow School Road in New Lebanon. Cost $5; free for Museum and LV Historical Society members. Information, www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org

Tuesday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. Author Roderick Bradford screens one-hour video and discusses his book “D.M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker” about Mount Lebanon Shakers Bennett and his wife Mary Wicks. North Family Granary building, Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, Darrow School Road, New Lebanon. Admission $5; free for Museum members. Books available for purchase. Information, www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org

 

 Saturday, September 11, 10 am  ARCHITECTURE PRESENTATION “Material Manifestations: The Legacy of the Shakers”  Students and faculty of the architecture program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy will present the results of their semester-long look at Shaker design, including imagining an archive and exhibition center for the Museum at Mount Lebanon.  The presentation will celebrate the Museum's publication of a book on their work.  At the Tannery, Darrow School, Mount Lebanon.  Free admission. Books available for purchase.

 

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Shaker Museum Offers Celebrates 60th Anniversary with Public Photography Exhibition and Benefit

 

NEW LEBANON, NY (June 15)—   In celebration of its sixtieth anniversary, The Shaker Museum and Library has asked invited artists and the general public to focus their camera lenses on Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and to submit the results for a summer photo exhibition entitled “Visions of Mount Lebanon.”

The exhibition, at the Joline Arts Center on the Darrow School campus in New Lebanon from June 27 to July 3, will feature over 70 photographs from invited artists, the general public, and area students, as well as historic images from the Museum’s archives and large-format photographs made last year by the National Park Service as part of its Historic American Landscapes Survey of the site.  Selected works will be auctioned during the Museum’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, with proceeds benefiting the Museum.

The exhibition will be installed by noted exhibition designer and Museum board chair Jeff Daly.  Jeff L. Rosenheim, Curator of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has agreed to serve as guest juror, selecting photographs for auction and adding commentary for the exhibition. 

Mount Lebanon housed the Central Ministry of the Shaker movement from 1787 to 1947.  It was the largest of all of America’s Shaker communities, at its peak consisting of over 150 buildings on thousands of acres, and home to over 600 people living in eight Shaker “families.”  Today, the site is a National Historic Landmark, and its North Family is being restored as the future home of the Museum.

“This promises to be a fascinating exhibition,” said Rosenheim, “to see how individuals of a variety of backgrounds, ages, and artistic experience respond to this beautiful historic place and interpret it through the medium of photography.  I am pleased to be able to participate in it.”

The photographers represented in the show were asked to donate one print of a photograph taken at the site.  The list of invited artists includes local and national photographers—some new to the site, and some who have submitted photographs taken decades ago.  All photographs in the exhibition will be reviewed by Rosenheim, who will choose a selection of public submissions to include with the invited artists’ work in the silent and live auctions at the Museum’s 60th Anniversary Celebration on July 10.   Other works will be sold during the exhibition.

Photographs taken by area students from Mountain Road School and Darrow School in New Lebanon and from Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth in Canaan—all three institutions on original Mount Lebanon lands—will also be on display.  Darrow students produced their own archival prints as part of their photography classes, and groups from Mountain Road and Berkshire Farm worked with consulting photojournalist Jane Feldman to define a sense of place using the camera.

“The Joline Arts Center is the perfect place for a photography show of this kind,” noted Daly.  “The modern building, set in the glorious landscape of the Lebanon Valley, and surrounded by the Shaker Village, is inspirational.”

“Visions of Mount Lebanon” will be open to the public with free admission 12 to 5 pm daily from Sunday, June 27 through Saturday, July 3.  On Wednesday, June 30 at 7 pm the Museum will present a lecture exploring the history of photography and the Shakers entitled “’Do You Know Any of These Good Folks?’: Photographing the Shakers.” 

A catalog of the invited artists’ work will be available at the exhibition.  The Museum’s 60th Anniversary Celebration is Saturday, July 10, and tickets for the Celebration start at $100.  For details, check the Museum’s website or call 518-794-9100.

 

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Shaker Museum Receives $400,000 EPF Grant for Great Stone Barn Project

NEW LEBANON, NY (April 27)– The Shaker Museum and Library’s restoration of the historic Great Stone Barn on the North Family Shaker site in New Lebanon received another huge boost when the state recently awarded the Museum a $400,000 Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grant.

The latest grant, together with previous grants, puts the Museum only $35,000 away from its fundraising goal of $1.95 million for the Barn’s stabilization, which is essential to the institution’s future plans - relocating its extensive Shaker collection to the site.

“The EPF award is well-timed, as we are now reviewing cost estimates for the Barn stabilization and in the coming weeks will be choosing the engineering option for doing so,” said Museum President David Stocks. “This grant will act as the required match for our recent Save America’s Treasures grant and vice versa.”

The Museum’s project involves stabilizing the four walls of the Great Stone Barn at the North Family Site of the Shakers at Mount Lebanon, next to Darrow School in the town of New Lebanon. For 150 years, from 1787 to its closing in 1947, Mount Lebanon was the principal Shaker community, and the North Family was its face to the outside world. The Great Stone Barn is the centerpiece of the site.

 

The project has been planned for several years because of the extensive fundraising and preparation work needed, but thanks to grant funding and community support, engineering and design are now well underway. “Over the next couple of years, the barn will be stabilized,” said Stocks.

The EPF grants were highly competitive, with 301 applications requesting $98.3 million and only $20.8 million available. One of the grant criteria was strong community support, and the Shaker Museum and Library has been lucky to have ongoing support for this project.

“We have more than 100 individual and foundation supporters who have contributed to the barn project, which I think is fantastic,” noted Stocks. “The Museum is going to need their continued support to see this important project to fruition.”

 

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Putting old methods to new uses:

 

Shaker Museum and North Bennet Street School to teach traditional woodworking skills to fans of historic properties.

 

National historic landmark site will provide a “living laboratory” in the name of preservation

 

New Lebanon, NY (April 21) – For the second summer, Boston’s acclaimed North Bennet Street School (www.nbss.org) will team up with the Shaker Museum and Library (www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org), this time to offer three two-week training courses in traditional woodworking and carpentry skills at the museum’s North Family at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village site.

 

Shaker Museum invites the public to share photographs for an Exhibition to Celebrate its 60th Anniversary and Benefit Mt. Lebanon Shaker Site

 

The expanded series of hands-on courses bolsters a unique partnership the institutions launched last summer with a two-part pilot program: the Village hosted four summer interns from the school’s preservation carpentry department, and a course for local preservation enthusiasts on traditional timber frame construction. 

Both aspects of the partnership will be repeated this year, thanks in part to continuing financial support from The 1772 Foundation and The World Monuments Fund.

The 2010 courses are for anyone interested in acquiring a foundation of time-honored hand skills that they can immediately put to use.  These include people advancing their careers in historic preservation, people interested in fine woodworking as hobby or second career, and owners of historic homes and barns.

The upcoming courses are: 

June 14 – 24: Fundamentals of Fine Woodworking.  The course covers the basic skills needed for any fine woodworking project – use and care of basic hand tools, characteristics of wood and wood movements, laying out and cutting dovetails, and mortise and tenon joinery.  Traditional furniture making and cabinetmaking techniques will be emphasized.  Classes are held Monday through Thursday, 8am to 6pm for two weeks.  Course fee is $1,150, plus the cost of tools if needed.  On-site housing is available for an additional fee.

July 12 – 22: Historic Window Sash Restoration.  Learn the techniques and recipes for rejuvenating tired, worn out windows.  Topics include assessing the condition of the sash, determining proper tools, safe techniques for paint stripping and repainting, glass cutting and tool glazing.  Students may bring their own sash to work on, or use a sash from one of the museum’s buildings.  Classes are held Monday through Thursday, 8am to 6pm for two weeks.  Course fee is $1,100, plus the cost of tools if needed.  On-site housing is available for an additional fee.

August 2 – 12: Historic Timber Frame Construction and Restoration. Learn about the layout and construction of historic timber frames made popular in 18th century barns and dwellings.  During the first week, students will construct a timber frame structure using traditional joinery and tools.  In the second week, students will apply their skills to the ongoing restoration of an actual historic structure, the Shaker Brethren’s Workshop.  Classes are held Monday through Thursday, 8am to 6pm for two weeks.  Course fee is $1,100.  On-site housing is available for an additional fee.

North Bennet Street School, which marks its 125th anniversary this year, is one of the few institutions in the country that offers a two-year training program in preservation carpentry. 

While at the Shaker Village site, the school’s interns will work closely with crews from the Stockbridge, MA construction firm of David E. Lanoue, Inc.  The company specializes in the preservation and restoration of traditional architecture and has been leading the recent restoration of the North Family Brethren’s Workshop and 1838 Granary building here.

“Finding historic structures to work on is often difficult,” said the school’s president, Miguel Gomez-Ibanez.  “So we welcome the opportunity to send our students there to be trained on old buildings in need of repair.  We also appreciate using the village as a place to teach local homeowners and preservationists in traditional hand skills.”  

The museum welcomes the opportunity, too.  With the closing of its Old Chatham site last year, the museum has been slowly transitioning to the New Lebanon campus.  All of the site’s eleven structures need repair, and the work must be accomplished in a manner that preserves their historic nature.

“Our goals are to improve the level of historic preservation trades training in the area, to honor the Shaker North Family story by preserving the buildings of that era, and to help the local community connect to our new location,” said David Stocks, president of Shaker Museum and Library. 

For more information about the courses, contact Jourdan Abel at the North Bennet Street School, 617-227-0155, workshop@nbss.org, or Geoff Miller at the Shaker Museum and Library, 518-794-9100 x 220, miller@shakermuseumandlibrary.org.

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Media Contact:

Michael Ward

Ward & Company PR

617 247 8797

mward@wardpr.com

 

NEW LEBANON, NY (April 20)– The Shaker Museum and Library (www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org) is asking invited artists and the general public to focus their camera lenses on Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, site of the Shaker movement’s Central Ministry from 1787-1947 and today a National Historic Landmark, and submit the results for a summer photo exhibition entitled Visions of Mount Lebanon.  Selected photographs will be auctioned during the Museum’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, with proceeds benefitting the restoration of the site and the Museum’s relocation to Mount Lebanon’s North Family.

“For more than two centuries, the Shaker Village has been a fascination to creative artists of all types—choreographers, composers, writers, and painters, from Nathanial Hawthorne to Aaron Copeland,” explained David Stocks, Museum president. “We want to continue that inspiration, and encourage everyone to participate in making their own contemporary “vision” of the site through photography.”

During the exhibition, to be mounted at the Joline Arts Center at Darrow School in New Lebanon, the new photographs will be complemented by historic photographs from the Museum’s extensive archives, as well as large-format documentary photographs taken last year by the National Park Service.

The Museum is also inviting several local school groups to participate, by visiting Mount Lebanon site and taking photographs.  Their photos will be included in the exhibition as a digital display.

The exhibition will be installed by noted exhibition designer and Museum board chair Jeff Daly.  Jeff L. Rosenheim, curator of photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has agreed to serve as guest juror, selecting photographs for auction and adding commentary for the exhibition.

“I have important memories of visiting Shaker sites as a child with my family and being drawn to the Shakers for their design and distinctive sense of culture, architecture, and aesthetics.   I still greatly enjoy visiting and being inspired by Shaker villages today,” said Rosenheim.  “This promises to be a fascinating exhibition--to see how individuals of a variety of backgrounds, ages, and artistic experience respond to this beautiful historic place and interpret it through the medium of photography.  I am pleased to be able to participate in it.”

The Museum is asking photographers to donate one print taken at Mount Lebanon for the exhibition.   The list of invited artists includes local and national photographers new to the site, as well as those who have been photographing there for their entire careers.  Photographs submitted by the general public will be reviewed by Rosenheim, who will choose a selection to be included in the silent auction at the Museum’s 60th Anniversary Celebration on July 10.  The others will be sold during the exhibition. 

On May 8 and 9, the Museum in cooperation with Darrow School will hold “open days” at the Mt. Lebanon site to allow photography on the grounds and in the interiors of selected Shaker buildings.  The photographs can be of any type, size, or subject—the only criterion is that the photograph must be taken at the Village.  June 1 is the submission deadline for photographs.

“The Joline Arts Center is the perfect place for a photography show of this kind,” noted Daly.  “The modern building, set in the glorious landscape of the Lebanon Valley, and surrounded by the Shaker Village, are inspirational.”

Visions of Mount Lebanon will be open to the public with free admission from 12 to 5 daily from June 27 to July 3. The Museum will also present a lecture on June 30 exploring the history of photography at the Shaker site. 

For details, check the Museum’s website or call (518) 794-9100.

 

 

CONTACT: David Stocks, Museum President

518-794-9100 ext 218

dstocks@shakermuseumandlibrary.org

 

 

 

Congressman Scott Murphy presents Museum with Congressional Citation for Historic Preservation

NEW LEBANON (January 11)--U.S. Congressman Scott Murphy paid a visit to the Shaker Museum and Library's North Family site in New Lebanon on Jan. 6. He praised the Museum's efforts to preserve the historic Great Stone Barn, and presented the organization with a Congressional Citation for Historic Preservation. "The barn is an amazing and impressive site, and I see why it's important for us to preserve," Murphy told a group of about 40 Museum supporters, also citing the Barn's important future impact on tourism. The Great Stone Barn, the centerpiece of the Shaker's North Family site, was severely damaged by fire 35 years ago. The Shaker Museum and Library has undertaken a multi-year, multimillion dollar effort to restore the barn and was recently awarded a $400,000 Save America's Treasures grant that will help pay for the barn's stabilization

Pictured in front of the newly restored Granary are (L to R):  Nancy Wolf, Head of School, Darrow School; Jeff Lick, Shaker Museum Trustee; Congressman Scott Murphy;, Jeff Daly, Chair, Shaker Museum and Library Board of Trustees.

 

2009

 

Shaker Museum & Library Receives One of Largest Amounts Nationwide

from Save America’s Treasures Grant Program

NEW LEBANON (December 21)– The Shaker Museum and Library’s North Family Great Stone Barn project at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, a National Historic Landmark, received a huge financial boost this week when it was awarded a $400,000 grant from this year’s Save America’s Treasures grant program, from the United States Department of the Interior/National Park Service. The museum’s grant was the largest among seven awarded in New York State and the seventh highest amount nationwide from the highly competitive program.

This is the second time the Shaker Museum and Library has received a Save America’s Treasures Grant, which is also unusual. Only 41 of the 402 applicants received grants in 2009. The grants are awarded by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the National Park Service, in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“We are thrilled. It’s such good news for us,” said David Stocks, president of the Shaker Museum and Library. “This grant will enable us to do a more significant scope of work than we previously had funding for.”

 

The Museum’s project involves stabilizing the four walls of the Great Stone Barn at the North Family Site of the Shakers at Mount Lebanon, next to Darrow School in the town of New Lebanon. For 150 years, from 1787 to its closing in 1947, Mount Lebanon was the principal Shaker community, and the North Family was its face to the outside world. The Great Stone Barn was the centerpiece of the site.

 

The barn was nearly destroyed by a devastating fire 35 years ago and is now in a state of advanced deterioration, but with the grant assistance from the Save America’s Treasures program, the structure will be stabilized and its masonry conserved.

 

The Shaker Museum has been working on the costly project for years, with the eventual goal of moving the Museum to the North Family site, which contains nine other Shaker buildings as well.  This long term project is designed to bring a huge tourism boost to Columbia County.

 

“It’s a big project. Because the barn has been sitting in this state for 35 years, it’s literally in danger of collapse. We need to stabilize the walls just to get people in there to do any additional work,” said Stocks. “A primary goal of historic preservation is not just to rebuild something out of new materials that looks old, but to honestly restore the remaining historic fabric, and that’s the big challenge at this site.”

The Shaker Museum and Library has worked closely with the National Parks Service and World Monuments Fund on a variety of projects at the North Family site. In 2004, the World Monuments Fund (www.wmf.org) named the Great Stone Barn to its 2004 Watch list of cultural heritage sites around the world in danger of being lost, and added the surrounding Shaker village to the 2006 Watch list.

“I think the amount of this Save America’s Treasures grant demonstrates the importance of the Barn, and the true risk this building faces if it doesn’t get support on the federal, state and local levels and from private sources as well,” said Amy Freitag, the World Monuments Fund’s program director for the United States. “It’s really been a rallying call for this historic site – while there are many important structures on the site, the Great Stone Barn is vital to the site’s identity.

“This is by no means all the money we need to raise,” continued Freitag. “But to have Save America’s Treasures endorse this project is an incredible boost. This is a very strong endorsement of what the Shaker Museum and Library is doing and the future of that site.”

U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy said: “The $400,000 that Mount Lebanon will receive for the stabilization of the Great Stone Barn will be part of a public-private partnership that will help preserve an important historical landmark and create jobs during these difficult economic times. I salute the board, staff and volunteers of the Shaker Museum for their stellar work in preserving Shaker architecture and cultural artifacts.”

New Lebanon Shaker Site Abuzz with Activity This Summer

NEW LEBANON, NY (September 8)– Bud Blanchard of Marlborough, Mass., has spent much of his summer solving the puzzles of various Shaker building designs so he can recreate them, by hand – on items like shutters, cellar doors and windows.

Although it’s often a painstaking process, since he can’t use power tools and must make the final products historical in nature, Blanchard wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s one of four interns from the North Bennet Street School in Boston who’s spending two months at the North Family, Mount Lebanon Shaker Village owned by the Shaker Museum and Library, learning preservation carpentry the best way possible – hands-on.

“This place is idyllic; it’s like being away at carpenter summer camp,” said Blanchard, a huge grin spreading across his face. “All of us as a class are really excited. It’s been a tremendous opportunity to study the way things are done, and to build things the way the Shakers would have.”

The Shaker Museum, which intends to relocate its extensive Shaker collection from Old Chatham to New Lebanon as soon as possible, started a partnership with the North Bennet Street School this summer for several reasons. Besides sending interns to work at the New Lebanon site during July and August, North Bennet also held a timber frame workshop there the first two weeks in August.

North Bennet is one of the few schools in the country offering training programs in unique skills such as preservation carpentry. The partnership works because the Museum’s centuries-old Shaker buildings need restoration, and the school needs actual sites where students can put their classroom learning into practice. Teaching preservation carpentry skills is important to the future of the country’s many historical buildings, too, and the Museum is continually looking for ways to introduce the public to its future home.

“Our goal is to improve the level of historic preservation trades training in the area, and to connect our site to the surrounding community,” said David Stocks, president of the Shaker Museum and Library. 

Blanchard and his fellow interns set up shop in the North Family’s Brethren’s Workshop, which may become permanent headquarters for the North Bennet Street School if funding can be found to support infrastructure repairs and an ongoing program, Stocks said.  They worked under the supervision of David E. Lanoue Building and Design, Inc., of Stockbridge, MA.  One of the interns’ first tasks was taking two Shaker workbenches, kept as educational tools and in storage for years, restoring them and building legs so they could use them as working stations.

The interns’ main focus for restoration work has been the Shakers’ Granary building. They created new gutters for the building from lead-coated copper, using a set of 19th century gutter making machines loaned by Don Carpentier of Nassau; crafted new cellar windows by hand using 19th century glass and wooden pegs instead of nails; and rebuilt shutters by using old photos and those still on site for reference.

The Shaker Museum’s collection of photographs, documentation, journals and artifacts makes duplicating the building parts much easier. “Because of the Museum’s archives and extensive documentation, the interns have reference material a restoration crew typically wouldn’t have access to,” said Stocks.   

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few mysteries to solve, like the Granary’s cellar door. When Blanchard first examined the unusual pattern of the nails on the sturdy original door, he was puzzled. They weren’t evenly spaced across the door in a straight line, and he knew the Shakers wouldn’t have hammered them in haphazardly.

“The Shakers had a methodology for everything,” he noted.

After studying the door some more, Blanchard finally figured out the methodology – the nails were attached in a diamond pattern, so none of the nails ended up on the same plane. He figured out several other puzzles of the cellar door, and was able to recreate the structure by hand-hewing wood to the right size, as the Shakers would have done. “This cellar door is the perfect example of everything the interns are doing here this summer,” said Stocks.

Meanwhile, under a tent next to the Granary, 11 students set to work this August learning how to use historic hand tools and their own muscle to create a timber frame structure one week, then work on the Brethren’s Workshop the next. The workshop was taught by Rich Friberg, a preservation carpentry instructor at North Bennet Street School, who has run similar programs for 13 years and has taught students from all over the country.

His goal for the workshops is “for people to get an understanding of the skills, to get a sense of accomplishment. They need to know what the pieces and parts are to do a repair.”

Michael Henderson of Shrewsbury, Mass. and James Manion of Austerlitz, NY, paired up one day as they practiced making holes in the timber with an antiquemortise drill. They took turns straddling the timber while “pedaling” the hand-operated machine.

Henderson does construction and has worked on historical houses, so wanted to learn a new skill to add to his knowledge base. “It’s actually fun to see how they did it in the Shakers’ time. It’s a new perspective. I’ve pretty much worked with power tools all my life,” he said.

Manion also works as a builder, remodeler and carpenter, and wants to help out others he knows who work on timber framing. “It’s interesting and challenging work,” he said of what he’d learned in the workshop. “So much effort goes into each cut, it makes you pay more attention to your work. It’s a personal investment, so you don’t want to have to do it again.”

A Report on 2009 Summer Programs

NEW LEBANON (September 1)--This summer, the Museum’s National Historic Landmark site, the North Family at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village in New Lebanon, New York has been buzzing with activity.  Towards the goals of restoring the site and relocating the Museum there from the barns of Old Chatham, the Shaker Museum and Library undertook several key partnerships to preserve the structural and historical integrity of Shaker buildings.    

“The Shaker water system is a great model of sustainability,” blogged Alan Grosse and Andy Meesmann, HALS (Historic American Landscapes Survey) interns who worked and lived at the North Family site for three months this summer. HALS is a division of the National Park Service that records existing landscapes of national importance through photos, drawings and schematic designs.  Under the direction of team leader David Driapsa, the HALS team investigated the North Family’s unusual and extensive system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts.  Their discoveries surpassed expectations and added a new layer of understanding about the Shaker landscape.  The team crawled into cramped aqueducts and cisterns, documenting water sources features.  The results of the HALS team’s findings will be new drawings, narrative, and photography that will become part of the Library of Congress, and will be accessible to the public on the internet.  Included in the survey will be a feature that pushed the envelope, a 3-D component that will be featured on Google Earth, making a virtual North Family available to all.   The HALS team presented their findings at a public talk and tour of the site in late August.  The project was made possible in part by the World Monuments Fund Craftsmanship Training Program.

Also this summer, the Shaker Museum and Library began a model long-term collaboration with the prestigious North Bennet Street School of Boston, to combine preservation trades training with hands-on restoration of a National Historic Landmark.  Students from Bennet Street’s renowned two-year preservation carpentry program were invited to live and work as interns at the North Family in July and August, helping to restore the Granary building (1838).  Students studied a variety of restoration techniques and used 19th- Century hand tools to complete exterior restorations of the building, including fabrication of a gutter system, new shutters, doors, siding, and extensive window restorations.  A generous grant from the 1772 Foundation made this collaboration possible. The interns were guided by the Stockbridge contractor Dave Lanoue, Inc.

North Bennet Street School also led a two-week public workshop in Timber Frame construction and restoration at the Mount Lebanon site.  This workshop is a pilot project to provide the expertise of the Bennet Street curriculum to the eastern New York/western Massachusetts communities.  During the first week, participants learned framing techniques and terminology and built a timber frame from the ground up.  The final product resulted in the beautiful timber frame you see in the picture on the left.  In their second week, the class worked to restore and repair a flooring system in the Brethren’s Workshop, the oldest Shaker structure remaining at the North Family.  The World Monuments Fund generously provided five scholarships to local participants who may not have been able to attend otherwise.

                                     

The summer was capped off by a luncheon hosted by the World Monuments Fund at the North Family Forge.  Representatives of North Bennet Street School, the National Park Service, New York State Parks, Darrow School, Hancock Shaker Village, and political and local figures were provided with a progress report on all of the work completed this summer and plans underway for next, which include continuing collaborations and restorations of the site, along with continued public programming about the unique and important history of the Shakers.

 

Shaker Museum and Library Sponsors Talk and Walk Tours at Mount Lebanon Site

NEW LEBANON (July 17)– The Shaker Museum and Library is hosting a monthly series of “Talk and Walk” lecture tours designed to give people a peek into Shaker life and several “Hidden Treasures” of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, where the Museum will eventually relocate.

The first Talk and Walk Tour is July 25 at 10 a.m., on the grounds of the Darrow School. “Hidden Treasures of Mount Lebanon: The Meetinghouse” will explore the 1824 Meetinghouse at Mount Lebanon. Now used as the library of the Darrow School, the Meetinghouse was designated one of New York State’s 12 most important examples of vernacular architecture and is perhaps the single most important building in Shaker history. Its ingenious design offers a huge worship space unencumbered by supporting posts, to accommodate the Shaker’s ritual dances and a multitude of visitors. The lecture and tour will explore little-seen parts of the building.

On August 22, “Hidden Treasures of Mount Lebanon: The Shaker Water Works” will take visitors on a tour of the Mount Lebanon Shakers’ intricate system of underground water works, used to supply their fields and business enterprises with water and power. The water works are of such interest that this summer the National Park Service is undertaking a project at the site to document the extensive system of the Village’s North Family through drawings and photography.

On Sept. 19, the program is “Hidden Treasures of Mount Lebanon: Significant Stone.” On the mountain high atop the Lebanon Valley where the Shakers once lived, you can’t throw a stone without hitting a rock, and some stones mean more than others. This hike around Mount Lebanon Shaker Village will explore the Shaker’s use of stone to create their “heaven on earth” and the “standing stones” left by Native Americans.

The final Talk and Walk tour will be held Oct. 17. “Hidden Treasures of Mount Lebanon: The Cemeteries” will explore the Shakers’ particular beliefs and ceremonies associated with death and burial, including a visit to some of the remaining Shaker cemeteries and monuments.

All Talk and Walk lecture tours are held at 10 a.m. at various venues at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, New Lebanon, NY. Cost is $15 per tour; $10 for Museum members. The entire series of four lectures can be reserved for $50 per person ($30 for Museum members). Space limited, call for reservations at (518) 794-9100 ext. 220, or contact Geoffrey Miller at miller@shakermuseumandlibrary.org .

Shaker Museum Kicks Off 60th Anniversary Celebration With Annual Benefit

 

NEW LEBANON – The Shaker Museum and Library kicks off a yearlong celebration of the institution’s 6oth anniversary at its annual benefit July 11 on the grounds of Darrow School. The Summer Party, “Sowing the Seeds” includes the popular silent and live auctions, wine and champagne, hors d’oeuvres and music under a tent at one of the Lebanon Valley’s most scenic locations, Tannery Pond.

 

The occasion will also honor brothers Warden and Stephen Williams, sons of the Shaker Museum’s founder, John S. Williams Sr., in appreciation of the Williams family’s seminal and lasting contributions to preserving Shaker heritage. The event runs from 5-8 p.m. and tickets begin at $100 per person.

The Shaker Museum and Library’s annual gala has become one of the area’s premiere summer events, and for the past several years has been held at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, a National Historic Landmark and the seat of the sect’s leadership for over 150 years.

The Museum purchased the site in 2004, and plans to merge its extensive collection of Shaker artifacts with the Shaker movement’s most significant historic site. The Museum has launched a series of exciting projects centered on the site and has begun major restoration and stabilization of the historical centerpiece, the Great Stone Barn.

The Summer Party silent auction features, for the fifth year, Shaker oval boxes painted by local artists. Each artist puts her own unique spin on the original works. Bonnie White, Raven Hummel, Barbara Willner, Mimi Forer, Robin Guthridge, Nancy Clark and Rita Squier will decorate this year’s oval boxes, donated by Shaker Workshops.

The auction item list also includes many creations by local artists and craftspeople, such as jewelry, rugs, Shaker items and paintings. Photography, food and wine selections and “night out” packages to a variety of local venues round out the silent auction offerings.

The silent and live auctions also feature a wooden woodpecker sculpture by renowned folk artist Felipe Benito Archuleta, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing, a week at a luxurious Colorado condo, and an original Shaker basket and sewing swift.

Tickets to the Summer Party are available by calling the Shaker Museum and Library at (518) 794-9100. For more information on Museum events, visit their website at www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org.

 

Shaker Museum and Library Sponsors Talk and Walk Tours

at Mount Lebanon Site

NEW LEBANON – The Shaker Museum and Library is hosting a monthly series of “Talk and Walk” lecture tours designed to give people a peek into Shaker life and several “Hidden Treasures” of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, where the Museum will eventually relocate.

The first Talk and Walk Tour is July 25 at 10 a.m., on the grounds of the Darrow School. “Hidden Treasures of Mount Lebanon: The Meetinghouse” will explore the 1824 Meetinghouse at Mount Lebanon. Now used as the library of the Darrow School, the Meetinghouse was designated one of New York State’s 12 most important examples of vernacular architecture and is perhaps the single most important building in Shaker history. Its ingenious design offers a huge worship space unencumbered by supporting posts, to accommodate the Shaker’s ritual dances and a multitude of visitors. The lecture and tour will explore little-seen parts of the building.

On August 22, “Hidden Treasures of Mount Lebanon: The Shaker Water Works” will take visitors on a tour of the Mount Lebanon Shakers’ intricate system of underground water works, used to supply their fields and business enterprises with water and power. The water works are of such interest that this summer the National Park Service is undertaking a project at the site to document the extensive system of the Village’s North Family through drawings and photography.

On Sept. 19, the program is “Hidden Treasures of Mount Lebanon: Significant Stone.” On the mountain high atop the Lebanon Valley where the Shakers once lived, you can’t throw a stone without hitting a rock, and some stones mean more than others. This hike around Mount Lebanon Shaker Village will explore the Shaker’s use of stone to create their “heaven on earth” and the “standing stones” left by Native Americans.

The final Talk and Walk tour will be held Oct. 17. “Hidden Treasures of Mount Lebanon: The Cemeteries” will explore the Shakers’ particular beliefs and ceremonies associated with death and burial, including a visit to some of the remaining Shaker cemeteries and monuments.

All Talk and Walk lecture tours are held at 10 a.m. at various venues at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, New Lebanon, NY. Cost is $15 per tour; $10 for Museum members. The entire series of four lectures can be reserved for $50 per person ($30 for Museum members). Space limited, call for reservations at (518) 794-9100 ext. 220, or contact Geoffrey Miller at miller@shakermuseumandlibrary.org . Website is www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org .

 

Shaker Museum Celebrates Stone Barn Legacy with Public Exhibit and Films

NEW LEBANON – The Shaker Museum and Library invites the public to learn more about the history and significance of the Great Stone Barn at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village during a limited engagement exhibition opening June 13.

“The Great Stone Barn: Built, Burned & Beyond” celebrates the 150th anniversary of the historic barn’s construction through the use of the Shaker Museum’s extensive archival materials. The exhibit includes photographs, original drawings and plans, rare film footage and artifacts documenting the Great Stone Barn’s history from conceptualization to the 1972 fire that destroyed much of the structure, to future plans for the stabilization of the remaining structure.

The Great Stone Barn was great because of its size, notes Jerry Grant, director of Research and Library Services at the Shaker Museum, and had many uses for the Shakers. The Barn housed nearly 100 animals. The haymow could hold nearly 3,000 cubic yards of hay, and there was a corn crib, grain room and three interior silos. The Barn had a small railroad track to move manure, sheds for farm equipment, and a ladder room for the 40-foot maintenance ladders.

“Just before the Shakers left Mount Lebanon for good in 1947, a young reporter visited, and as they toured, Sister Jennie Wells said ‘Shakerism can’t be told, it must be lived. Still, you can learn a lot about it just from that barn,’” said Grant. “That seemed true until someone decided to burn it up one cold September night. I hope the information in this exhibit will light another fire -- one of enthusiasm to preserve this monumental treasure.”

The exhibit will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from June 13 to 28 and again from Sept. 5 to 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at The Granary building on the grounds of the North Family, Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, New Lebanon. Admission is $5; free to Museum members. The village is located at 202 Shaker Road, next to Darrow School. A special preview opening party will be held Friday, June 12 from 5 to 7 p.m., and will include wine and hors d’oeuvres. This event is free and open to the public.

In conjunction with the exhibit, two films will be shown at the Forge building on the North Family site. On Saturday, June 20, at 2 p.m., the film “Medicinal Wetlands” will be featured. In this film, New Lebanon filmmaker Ted Timreck documents one of the defining features of the Lebanon Valley – the unusual and huge Shaker Swamp at the base of Mount Lebanon, used by Native Peoples, the Shakers and Tilden Pharmaceutical Company as a source of medicinal plants. Running time is 34 minutes; admission $5 or free to Museum members, Darrow School alumni and exhibit ticket holders.

The second film, “Jocasta,” will be shown on Sunday, June 28 at 2 p.m. in The Forge. This experimental movie by Elise Kermani was filmed on location at the Great Stone Barn in 2006.  Inspired by Euripides’ “The Phoenician Women” (ca. 400 BC), the movie touches on themes of exile, sacrifice and the creative act of writing a narrative. Run time is 52 minutes, and admission is $5, free to Museum members and exhibit ticket holders.

“Built, Burned & Beyond” is one of several projects and activities happening at the Mount Lebanon site this summer. A timber frame workshop, Landscape Volunteer Program, and July 11 summer celebration and fundraiser are some of the other activities designed to involve the public in the site. The Shaker Museum and Library purchased the North Family at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village in 2004, with plans to move the Museum to the site. The Shaker Museum closed its Old Chatham site to concentrate on the relocation, and stabilization of the Great Stone Barn is set to begin in 2010.

For more information on Shaker Museum and Library events, visit their website at www.shakermuseumandlibrary.org.

 

 

Shaker Museum’s Mount Lebanon Site Chosen for Historic American Landscapes Survey by National Park Service

NEW LEBANON – Another respected national organization has recognized the historical significance of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village site in New Lebanon, future home of the Shaker Museum and Library.

The National Park Service will send a team to the site this summer to study the landscape and document significant features with photographs and mapping. The North Family at the Mount Lebanon site was one of only a few chosen for a 2009 Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). The HALS will become part of the Library of Congress. The project is being funded by the National Park Service and World Monuments Fund.

Of particular interest to the Park Service is the site’s elaborate waterworks systems, which include mill dams, reservoirs and underground aqueducts the Shakers used to fuel their many business ventures, such as chair and oval box making. The Mount Lebanon site was the first organized, largest, and most successful Shaker communal society in America, and the seat of the sect’s leadership for more than 150 years.

“The elaborate waterworks were what caught the attention of the Park Service and what interested them in this project,” explained David Stocks, Shaker Museum and Library president. “This is part of a larger project by the Museum to document, restore and open to the public the Mount Lebanon site.”

Mount Lebanon Shaker Village was named to the World Monuments Fund list of 100 most significant endangered historic sites in the world in 2004. The same year, the Shaker Museum and Library purchased the site, comprising 30 acres and 11 extant Shaker buildings, with the plan of merging its premier collection of Shaker artifacts with the Shaker movement’s most significant historic site.

The National Park Service said it is interested in doing the HALS here because the Shakers at Mount Lebanon led the largest and most successful utopian communal society in America for 160 years, contributing greatly to America’s agricultural, industrial, commercial, and institutional activities.

“The innovative design of Mount Lebanon’s North Family Village epitomized the group’s distinct aesthetic principles and material culture, harnessing the land’s topography and water flow to operate as a finely-tuned machine,” according to the Park Service.

The survey will be conducted by a team of professionals and interns in preservation architecture and landscape architecture. Through measured and interpretive drawings, written histories, and large-format photographs, they will document the landscape. The Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress will in turn preserve this documentation for posterity and make it available to the general public.

“We will have three people working full-time during June, July and August,” said Stocks. They will be aided by existing photographs and documentation available through the Library of Congress website. “They will be working to document the existing conditions of the landscapes and features, and the photographers will try to recreate the perspectives of old photographs for comparison.”

A three-dimensional map will be created using GIS (geographic information system) technology, and the maps will also be accessible online.

“We are excited about the GIS piece, which the Park Service will use to thoroughly map the waterworks system,” said Stocks. “This is a relatively new technology the Park Service is using.”

The HALS is just one of several projects and activities happening at the Mount Lebanon site this summer. The Shaker Museum is holding a timber frame workshop in partnership with the North Bennet Street School in Boston from August 3-13; a Landscape Volunteer Program will begin this summer; the Museum is assembling a consortium of public institutions with major Shaker archive collections to coordinate the description, organizing, and digitizing of these materials on the Internet; and major restoration and stabilization of the Great Stone Barn continues.

The public will be welcomed to view the site during periodic tours, exhibits and at the July 11 Summer Celebration, which will kick off the Museum’s 60th anniversary year.