OLD CHATHAM — The Shaker Museum will open a temporary exhibition Shakers: In Community on July 17 at 17 Main St., Chatham. Through an array of photographs, furniture, prints, apparel as well as other objects in the permanent collection of Shaker Museum, this pop-up experience will examine the different ways in which the Shakers sought to forge equitable and inclusive communal bonds. The exhibition will be open Fridays through Sundays from July 17 through Oct. 4, with the first weekend reserved for Shaker Museum members. Entrance is free for all visitors thanks to the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation and Columbia County resident Jack Shear.
This exhibition is one outcome of a sustained initiative. In 2018, Fordham University in New York City received a $50,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Theology Program to fund a project that explored Shaker art, design, and religion in partnership with Shaker Museum. As a result of this partnership, a group of artists, scholars, and museum professionals was formed to investigate these intersections within the Shaker context. Over 18 months in 2018 - 2019, the fellows explored the Shaker Museum’s extensive collection of Shaker material culture and spent time thinking about and discussing how to incorporate the values and spirit of the Shakers into the Museum’s mission and programming, leading in part to this exhibition.
Shakers: In Community was curated by Maggie Taft, who participated in the 18 month exploration. Taft is the founder of the Haddon Avenue Writing Institute in Chicago and writing faculty at the University of Chicago. She earned a PhD in art history from the University of Chicago, and her writing and reviews have appeared in magazines and journals including Artforum, The Point, Texte Zur Kunste, Design and Culture, and The Journal of Design History. She is coeditor of Art in Chicago: A History from the Fire to Now (University of Chicago Press, 2018), the first single volume history of art in Chicago from the nineteenth century through the present day. Her book, The Chieftain and the Chair: Danish Design in Postwar America is under contract with the University of Chicago Press.
Lacy Schutz, the Shaker Museum’s director, stated, “Shakers: In Community is a reflection of the Museum’s mission to present the important and timely values of Shaker culture – community, inclusion, and equality – through objects from its collection. We are excited that this exhibition can serve as a small preview of how the Shaker Museum will be able to engage and contribute to our community in Chatham.”
Earlier this year, the Shaker Museum purchased an empty building at 5 Austerlitz St., Chatham. A $1,569,000 grant from Empire State Development through New York State’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) initiative will help support the building’s transformation into a museum and community cultural center.