Vermont is a popular winter destination. Families flock to places like Stowe to delight in snow covered mountains and all the undulating countryside has to offer in the colder winter months. Vermont, however, is a lush wonderland during the summer months, and the Shelburne Museum might just give you a reason to take the kids there on a family vacation.
History Of The Museum
Electra Havemeyer Webb was born in 1888, the daughter of two collectors of European and Asian art. Electra, however, believed in American folk art and used her fortune to amass an incredibly impressive collection. Electra realized that the canvas wasn’t the only place for art to live, and when she founded the Shelburne Museum in 1947, she started relocating historic 18th and 19th century buildings to the property to house her collection of artwork.
Electra sought to create “an educational project, varied and alive”, and she has accomplished just that. Today the indoor/outdoor museum is a place for both children and adults alike to explore history by stepping directly into America’s past.
Things Kids Will Like
The first stop on the shuttle’s path is the 1920 Herschell-Spillman Company carousel which is still in good working order. The kids all have their choice of several different antique horses and will beg to ride again and again.
Next on the path you will find the humongous Steamboat Ticonderoga, which ran on Lake Champlain from 1906 until 1953. In 1955, it was moved to the Shelburne Museum where it stands today as a living monument to life onboard in 1923. It’s impossible not to get excited when you walk through this boat. The dining room is set for supper, the kitchen has cans from the 20’s, the ticket room is full of old paperwork, and you can even steer the boat yourself. It’s truly like taking a step back in time and is easily the highlight of the trip for every member of the family.
The Owl Cottage Activity Center offers art activities based on a particular artist, story time, and a playroom where the kids can take a break to create, relax, and imagine—basically just be kids. It’s a great place to spend an hour before moving on to the New England village beyond.
Things Adults Will Like
Discover family homes, a general store, an apothecary, a barn full of old carriages, and even a printing shop where everyone can watch prints made with old presses firsthand. All the buildings at that far end of the property have some sort of historical significance and adults will relish the opportunity to explore each one with their kids.
While some collections come and go, the regular collections at the Shelburne Museum focus on American folk art. There are paintings, decor, quilts, costumes, circus figures and even a building dedicated to toys. The “things adults will like” are certainly things the kids can get into as well.
A Warm Weather Visit To Vermont
The Shelburne Museum is the best kind of museum; it’s true to life exhibits invite visitors to engage with their surroundings in a truly meaningful way. The city of Shelburne has plenty of other attractions too—like the Shelburne Vineyard or the Vermont Teddy Bear Company—and is close to bustling Burlington and Lake Champlain so you won’t run out of activities for tons of summer fun when you take the whole family on vacation to Shelburne.