Vermont Part III
When we checked in to our campsite for our second stay in The Green Mountain State, I was asked by kind, silver-haired Shirley behind the desk if we were planning on visiting The Shelburne Museum while in the area. When I hesitated, the woman informed me she had a discount on the admission fees. Discount? Well sure. We absolutely were going to visit!
After we settled in, I started to do some research (Let's be honest here. I Googled). I realized that The Shelburne Museum was A Thing. Like, a Really Big Thing. The Museum is so big your admission to the museum allows you to return on the next day to complete your visit!
The museum has over 150,000 works housed in 38 exhibition buildings spread out over l45 acres. Because of this, we highly recommend doing the following: take the shuttle tour as soon as you arrive, and try to schedule your day around the free guided tours offered at a handful of the exhibits.
The shuttle tour is offered on a large golf cart much like you see at amusement parks and state fairs. It follows a circiular route so you can take it on a loop of the entire property. While traveling and at each designated shuttle stop, the shuttle driver provides an overview of the buildings in the area and the main pieces on exhibit. If you have to budget your time during your visit and cannot wander at leisure, this tour will allow you go get a first-hand look at what's available so you can prioritize your visit.
The museum can be rather overwhelming at first. While all buildings, gardens and exhibits are well labeled, joining the guided tours will give you much more context about what you are seeing than you could infer on your own. On our visit we participated in the guided tour of the Ticonderoga as well as the tour of the Stencil House and Prentis House. The Stencil and Prentis houses are kept closed to the general public so the only way you can see the interiors is on one of the offered guided tours. The Stencil House is kept guided because of the story behind how the stencilled walls were discovered, while the Prentis House has a unique background on both the structure itself as well as the daily life recreated inside with the selected artifacts.
You can find anything from Impressionist paintings to 19th century American quilts to the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga to a covered bridge at Shelburne Museum. Electra came by collecting naturally. She began with a focus on American folk art, and once the idea for the museum became a reality, she expanded her collecting to give visitors lifelike experiences by walking through buildings and viewing artifacts as they may have actually been used.
Funnily enough, we even had a Vanderbilt connection to the woman who established The Shelburne Museum. Electra Havermeyer Webb (best. name. ever.) had Dr. William Seward Webb and Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt as parents-in-law. Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt's grandfather? Oh, only The Cornelius Vanderbilt, the patriarch of our alma mater and our namesake Vanderbilt University.
My personal favorite part of Shelburne Museum was the grounds. Though it was a cool and overcast day, I enjoyed wandering around the whole property. The buildings and exhibits on the grounds almost echo with voices from the past - I could just stand outside and imagine what life was like in that era, who might have lived or used those buildings. The gardens - even at the end of the growing season - were meticulous and groomed. I would love to come back and visit when everything is in bloom. Jeremy retreated to his childhood while on the museum campus, and preferred spending time with with the trains and the Ticondaroga. The stories accompany moving these giant machines to the museum grounds were almost as interesting as the objects themselves.
We took SO many photos on our day exploring Shelburne Museum so rather than inundate you with 100 photos in this blog post, we're sharing most of them on Facebook. Hope you'll head over and "like" our page so you can get to experience all of what we did while we were in Vermont!
And one more thing. I would be remiss to end this post without mentioning the epic bagel sandwiches we had for breakfast as we fueled up for our long day of wandering the Shelburne Museum grounds. The Burlington Bagel Bakery was recently voted Best Bagel Shop in Burlington. I'm (sort of) a Jersey girl, so I know my bagels. Jeremy is familiar with all carbohydrates. The Lake Champlain (lox, cream cheese, tomato, onion, capers) was perfect. The chai blend they have at B^3 was pretty darn good, too. Jeremy's 802, named after the area code for Burlington, was also a great pick. The sandwich came with turkey, maple bacon, apple slices and Cabot cheddar. If you are in the area, be sure to stop by for a sandwich before you tour the musuem or nearby breweries.
Our last post on Vermont will be next. I explore Gile Mountain, Queechee Gorge and (my died-and-go-to-heaven) King Arthur Flour.