Exhibit Juxtaposes Shaker and Modern Design at Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon

Shaker and Modern design(NEW LEBANON, N.Y.) – The Shaker Museum|Mount Lebanon will open its main season exhibition, Side By Side: Shaker and Modern Design, to the public on Sunday, June 28, 2015. The exhibition, which pairs Shaker works with works by contemporary and modern designers, will be on view during the museum’s hours, every Friday-Monday 10am to 4pm through October 12. Museum members are invited to preview the exhibit on Saturday, June 27, with an opening reception for the museum’s donors being held that evening at 5pm.

Shaker furniture has been has been widely influential to modern furniture designers. This exhibition will examine the idea of modernism and its connection to ideals of utopian social reform through the lens of Shaker and modern furnishings, with works by iconic designers such as Jens Risom, Børge Mogensen, George Nakashima, and Wharton Esherick shown alongside Shaker works from the nineteenth century. The exhibition will be installed in the historic Wash House ironing room at Mount Lebanon.

Shaker communal life and their values of purity, order, and union are revealed in how they made their furniture, which is distinctive in its simple, direct forms. Historians have long explored the influence of Shaker forms on modern design. The exhibition will trace the path of influence – how Shaker furniture came to inspire students at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Denmark, where a generation of renowned furniture designers, later famous for “Danish modern” design, were educated.

Also explored will be less direct influences and the circumstances that drove later designers to look back to the Shakers for inspiration, including the social upheavals that rocked the world after World War I, during the Great Depression, and then again during World War II. This exhibition follows an installation at the European Fine Art Fair in the Netherlands that the museum helped present in March, where Shaker furniture was presented in the context of modern design. An accompanying book, “Shaker: Function, Purity, Perfection,” was recently released by Assouline Publishing.

“So many people know the Shakers mostly because of so-called Shaker design,” said museum president David Stocks. “What we hope to show in this exhibition is what that design really meant for the Shakers themselves, and how and why it became so important to furniture makers of the mid-twentieth century.”

The Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, located in New Lebanon, Columbia County, New York, is dedicated to engaging and inspiring local, national, and global audiences by telling the story of the American Shakers. The museum’s collections span over 60,000 objects and it stewards the North Family historic site at Mount Lebanon, a National Historic Landmark. The museum is open seasonally at the site from June to October, and offers programs year-round.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.