Major exhibition in Morehouse Wing

‘The Shakers’ opens at Farnsworth

Jun 08, 2014
Photo by: Alan LaValle Shaker-crafted implements going on view at the Farnsworth Art Museum include, from left, a shaving shovel of wood and metal; snow shovel of pine, maple and iron; spading fork of wood and metal; and a shovel of oak and iron, all from the Collection of the Shaker Museum| Mount Lebanon, New Lebanon, N.Y.

Rockland — On Saturday, June 14, the Farnsworth Art Museum will open “The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon to the World,” an exhibition of approximately 200 works that will run through Jan. 4 in the downtown museum’s Morehouse Wing. The exhibition has been organized in partnership with the Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon in New Lebanon, N.Y.; and Maine’s Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village Museum in New Gloucester.

Drawn primarily from the collection of the Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, the largest, broadest and deepest collection of Shaker material in the world, the show will present a comprehensive look at the religious, social and economic foundations of Shaker life, seen through Shaker-made objects. While the show is a historical overview seen through objects from Mount Lebanon, the spiritual and administrative center of the Shaker world, it importantly also includes a section on the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake, the last active Shaker community.

The collection at the Shaker Museum and Library | Mount Lebanon consists of more than 60,000 objects spanning more than 200 years of Shaker history. Founded in 1950 as the first museum in the world devoted to the Shakers, it evolved from museum founder John S. Williams’ relationship with members of the Mount Lebanon, Canterbury, Hancock and Sabbathday Lake communities and his dedication to preserving the Shakers’ legacy. His collection formed the basis of the museum, which has grown significantly since. While objects from its collection have been lent to numerous exhibitions, this is the first major undertaking to focus on pieces from the Mount Lebanon community.

The Sabbathday Lake collection, museum and library combined exceed 100,000 pieces distributed among 17 buildings. Founded in 1931, it is the only collection entirely assembled by the Shakers themselves and stands as the world's largest repository of Maine Shaker heritage. It continues to be directly managed as the educational arm of the only active Shaker Community. The Farnsworth is collaborating with the Community at Sabbathday Lake in the selection of works from its collection, educational programming and preparation of the catalog. Rarely, if ever, have the Shakers assumed such a role in a project of this scope to tell their own story.

The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with David Stocks, president, and Jerry V. Grant, director of collections and research, at the Shaker Museum and Library | Mount Lebanon; Michael S. Graham, director of Sabbathday Lake Shaker Museum; Leonard Brooks, former director of the Sabbathday Lake museum; and Brother Arnold Hadd and Sister Frances Carr from Sabbathday Lake. The show will be accompanied by a richly illustrated book titled “The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon the World,” published in cooperation with Skira Rizzoli Publishers.

The opening will be celebrated at a members’ preview and reception Friday, June 13, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Lead support for “The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon to the World” includes the Henry Luce Foundation, The Davis Family Foundation and an anonymous donor. Exhibition sponsors include Allen Insurance and Financial, Chilton Furniture of Maine, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, Grasshopper Shop of Rockland and Windsor Chairmakers. The primary media sponsor of this exhibition is Maine Home + Design.

The Farnsworth Art Museum celebrates Maine’s ongoing role in American art. It offers a nationally recognized collection of works from many of America’s greatest artists, with 20,000 square feet of gallery space and more than 13,000 works in the collection. The Farnsworth has one of the largest public collections of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson, while its Wyeth Center features works of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. The National Register-listed Farnsworth Homestead; the Olson House, a National Historic Landmark; and Julia’s Gallery for Young Artists complete the museum complex. For more information on current exhibitions, programs and events, visit farnsworthmuseum.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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