(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – New programs and exhibitions regarding the ever-popular, iconic Shaker chair will rub up against old favorites including Baby Animals and the fall Country Fair at Hancock Shaker Village (HSV). The living history museum’s 2013 season, its 53rd, opens this coming Saturday, April 13, with the unveiling of two exhibitions: Patterns: A Painting and Drawing Exhibition by Susan Merrill, the annual painting and drawing exhibition composed of works that celebrate Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm by the Stockbridge-based artist, and A Promising Venture: Shaker Photographs from the WPA, a continuation of last year’s popular exhibition featuring the work of photographer Noel Vicentini, who was hired as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project in 1936 to document the Shaker villages in upstate New York and western Massachusetts for the Index of American Design.
Next month, Fakes and Forgeries: Shaker Chairs and Their Influence enjoys an opening reception on Thursday, May 23 from 4pm to 6pm. The exhibition, which runs until the end of the 2013 season on Sunday, October 27, will examine the imitations next to the authentic articles, pointing out the details that make Shaker chairs unique and worthy of duplication, even today. Appealing to the general museum visitor, craftsmen, and collectors, the information provided will allow visitors to better identify Shaker chairs and their imitators. This exhibition will include interactive components, including a guessing game, a hands-on Shaker chair with tilters, and Shaker chair assembly.
Also opening the same day is Village Views, a diverse exhibition of works by Berkshire-based artists Marge Bride, Deb Carter, Michael Cohen, Joannie Ciofi Palano, Ellen Joffe-Halprin, Ivor Parry, and Scott Taylor in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, acrylics, and oil.
Shaker chairs will also be the subject of Wood Works, a juried gallery exhibition of Shaker-inspired chairs, small furniture, and functional pieces crafted by contemporary woodworkers and furniture makers. The exhibition, running Saturday, September 7 through Sunday, October 27, looks at how the Shaker tradition of fine craftsmanship is still practiced today by many talented individuals who each add personal and unique touches to their work while honoring the Shaker aesthetic of clean lines, beautiful woods, and an eye toward perfection.
The Village will host an array of community events, such as the ever-popular spring Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm and fall Country Fair. The schedule also features a dozen workshops that explore the connection between the Shakers and contemporary life, with topics such as quilting, woodworking, backyard poultry and beekeeping, and photography. New for 2013, the Village will offer Wooden Window Sash Restoration taught by preservation expert Jackie Blombach. It will be a rare behind-the-scenes, hands-on opportunity for participants to become an important part of HSV’s ongoing restoration efforts as they learn the skills and techniques of wooden window sash restoration.
HSV will offer four specialty tours this year, including a Behind-the-Scenes Farm Tour during Baby Animals that includes a private narrated hayride with baby animals on board, plus Choose Your Own Shaker Adventure custom tours in which participants choose from a list of more than 30 topics, as well as tours that focus on children and “off limits” attics and basements.
HSV is collaborating on projects with several different organizations during the 2013 season. Willis Henry Auctions will return to the Village for a second year to sell part two of the McCue Shaker Collection. Outstanding In The Field will throw one of its famous locavore dinner extravaganzas in the Village gardens. Chef Brian Alberg and his crew from The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge will man the field kitchen and present a five-course meal to 150 guests. The Village will also serve as the site for three major athletic events: the Hancock Shaker Village Trail Marathon and 50-Mile Ultramarathon and the Berkshires to Boston Bicycle Tour.
HSV is expanding its virtual presence this year thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS) that will allow the museum to dramatically improve its website. The overall goal is to make an online visit more closely reflect a visit to the physical site. This is being accomplished in a number of ways, such as ‘micro-sites’ for exhibitions, events, and our many initiatives, such as the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and Master of Science in Design & Historic Preservation programs. An interactive map shows building details, sample artifacts, audio clips, and links to pages with additional information about each building. Searchable databases of the museum’s collection and of Shakers who lived at Hancock, as well as new videos and online exhibitions give greater access to the wealth of knowledge held in the collections and archives.
An outdoor history museum and educational resource situated on a picturesque expanse of farm, field, and woodland in Pittsfield, Mass., Hancock Shaker Village affords visitors authentic experiences in 20 historic buildings, heirloom medicinal and vegetable gardens, and with 22,000 examples of Shaker furniture, crafts, tools, and more. This National Historic Landmark depicts daily life at the Shakers’ City of Peace through its 220 years. Partake of guided tours, craft and cooking demonstrations, lectures, workshops, hikes on interpreted trails, and a Discovery Room with hand-on activities for children. Stop by for lunch at the Village Harvest Café. Find gifts and souvenirs in the Village Store. An interactive Village audio tour is available in English, French, Italian, and German. Additionally HSV offers an executive every-other weekend Master of Science in Design & Historic Preservation program in collaboration with UMASS Amherst