Visit to the Shelburne Museum
scope of Electra Havemeyer Webb's collection of Americana,
displayed at the Shelburne Museum, just south of Burlington,
Vermont provided our family with a whimsical historical look
at her life and loves, as well as life in various eras
museum grounds, purchased by Electra in 1947 to house her
growing collection of 18th, 19th and 20th century items
including every-day things, decorative arts, furniture,
quilts, samples and textiles, tools, toys, carriages,
railroad cars and the National Historic Landmark Ticonderoga
Steamship together with period and replica buildings offered
a glimpse into by-gone days, in a beautiful New England
unusual Round Red Barn welcomed us with a short introductory
film before entering the museum. We recommend that you
take the time to watch the film.
most of the museum is designed for viewing only, special
Touch & Learn and Look & Learn stations offer
children hands on activities and objects.
displays and buildings at the museum are categorized based
on themes including:
Before we headed out
to explore the museum, we highlighted those exhibits of
special interest to our family on the museum
Following the museum
map to the left upon exiting the Red Barn, here are our
family tips for must see exhibits at Shelburne Museum:
The 1920 Vintage
Carousel, located by the Circus Building, operates when the
weather permits, and is a favourite with all the children
that visit the museum. Sometimes one ride isn't
Built on site in 1965,
the Circus building was designed to accommodate a 500 foot
carved miniature circus parade. At the entrance of the
unique U shaped structure is a miniature circus display
while antique carousel figures line the wall opposite the
Our children enjoyed
exploring the Rail Car Grand Isle. Although not highlighted
as a special interest exhibit for children on the Museum
map, the grandeur and quaint sleeping quarters earned the
exclamation "I'd like to sleep in there, it looks like
The 10 wheel steam
locomotive is a must-see for all train enthusiasts.
When we crossed the
train tracks, the Famous steamship Ticonderoga comes into
Built at a still-operating ship yard on the
Shelburne Peninsula, this side-wheel steamboat cruised the
waters of Lake Champlain offering passengers luxury and
scenic views along the journey. Tour the lower deck
galley kitchen. Don't miss the touch and learn
exhibit in a passenger cabin. Can you guess who the
passenger is? We did. Follow the clues.
The lighthouse, moved
from Lake Champlain to its present location by Electra,
provides some insight into the life of a lighthouse keeper
in the late 19th and early 20th century.
An absolute must visit
for children is the Owl Cottage Family Activity
Center. The Center offers families a place to relax
and explore activities related to museum exhibits.
Children can try on clothes from other eras or play old
fashioned games and enjoy the books offered for family
enjoyment. Simple art projects are offered during July
If you timed your
visit right, your family will be ready for lunch and enjoy
the selections offered at the cafe.
After lunch we headed
over to the General Store. What fun we had trying to
guess what some of the items were used for.
At to the Blacksmith
Shop we were afforded an opportunity to watch the tradesman
at work over the hot coals.
The Horseshoe Barn and
Horseshoe Barn Annex contain an amazing array of horse-drawn
vehicles including a sleigh to take children to school in
the winter, a gypsy wagon and a hearse that converts from
wagon to sleigh.
Be sure to take the
kids into the jail and ask them to imagine being locked in
Next Stop - Toy Shop
and Variety Building. There is a Touch & Learn
display with two antique banks as well as displays of toys
that all kids will enjoy in both these buildings, including
miniature transportation toys, dolls and dollhouses.
Children can get a
glimpse of what school was like in 19th Century Vermont at
the Touch and Learn exhibit in the Schoolhouse, and then
head out back to play in the garden.
The life of a young
family is depicted at the Settlers' House and the hands-on
exhibition adds to the feel of 1795.
Before heading to the
1950's House Exhibit, we took a quick stop to the Memorial
Building furnished from the rooms of Electra's New York City
home. Activity Hint - see if the kids can follow the
stair handrails from end to end. Surprisingly it is
one continuous railing.
Our last stop before
the Museum Store was the 1,000 square foot 1950 ranch style
house. For people who lived during this era it
provides an interesting look back to this time. For
the kids, the garage houses some of the games of the 50's.
Well, that was our
visit to the Shelburne Museum. We had visited the
Museum in 1992 when our oldest son was just 2 years old and
enjoyed it then. It was different this time with the
kids actively participating in the experience and definitely
a worthwhile excursion for all families.
For more information on
the Shelburne Museum go to Vermont Family
For information on Hotels and Resorts
in Vermont go to Vermont Hotels and
For information on Ski Resorts in
Vermont go to Vermont Ski Resorts.