Shelburne Museum opens with new exhibitions, programs, and refurbished historic buildings
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Shelburne Museum opens with new exhibitions, programs, and refurbished historic buildings
Maria Shell, Everything All At Once, 2019, cotton, 58 x 58 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by Chris Arend.

SHELBURNE, VT.- Shelburne Museum opened the 2022 season and kicked off its 75th anniversary on Sunday, May 15 with a full slate of new exhibitions, programs, and refurbished historic buildings. Northern New England’s largest art and history museum will be open six days a week, Tuesdays through Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including holiday Mondays, through October 16.

Stagecoach Inn and The Dana-Spencer Textile Galleries at Hat and Fragrance, where two of the museum’s most important collections reside—American Folk Art and quilts—will reopen this season after updates and conservation.

This season visitors will have a special opportunity to view a major exhibition of the work of Luigi Lucioni. Luigi Lucioni: Modern Light showcases the technically sophisticated realist who favored the play of light and shadows on weathered barns and stately trees contributing to the genre termed “Yankee Modernism.” In addition, visitors can explore American art through the lens of eyewear. Eyesight and Insight: Lens on American Art explores the ways in which eyesight, vision, and eyeglasses played a role in the history of American art. Visitors of all ages will be delighted by the museum’s expansive and compelling collections of art and Americana spanning four centuries from folk art and circus collections, to carriages and decoys.

This season’s exhibitions include:

Eyesight and Insight: Lens on American Art (May 15 – October 16) illuminates the history of creative response to perceptions of vision and invites new insights into the ways American artists have negotiated issues related to eyesight from the 18th to the 21st century. The exhibition features objects from Shelburne Museum’s collection as well as significant loans including works by Rembrandt Peale, George Cope, Tseng Kwong Chi and others. Surveying more than 200 years of art and technological innovation, this marks the first major museum exhibition and scholarly publication considering the myriad roles of eyeglasses and optical technologies in the history of American art. A virtual component to the exhibition has already launched on the museum’s website.

Luigi Lucioni: Modern Light (June 25-October 16) examines the career, influences, and techniques of Italian-American artist Luigi Lucioni. A prolific painter and printmaker, Lucioni is known today for his landscape paintings, still-life works, portraiture and etchings. Modern Light is the first comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work at a major public museum, as well as Shelburne Museum’s first monographic exhibition of Lucioni’s art since 1968. Known during his lifetime as a technically sophisticated realist who favored the play of light and shadows on weathered barns and stately trees, Lucioni contributed to the genre that art historian Bruce Robertson has termed “Yankee Modernism.” Lucioni, along with Paul Sample, Maxfield Parrish, and even Charles Sheeler and Andrew Wyeth, depicted a landscape and a people, orderly yet odd, who embodied an idealized set of “American” values in an era of great social and political change.

Commissioned to celebrate the museum’s 75th anniversary, Nancy Winship Milliken: Varied and Alive (May 15-October 16), is a site-specific outdoor sculpture exhibition that embodies the Museum’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability while also engaging in global and local ecological conversations, from climate change to Lake Champlain’s watershed history. Installed within a pollinator meadow planted for this exhibition, Winship Milliken’s four monumental post-and-beam structures feature different natural materials intrinsic to the land, all of which explore themes related to sustainability: horsehair, wool, beeswax, and driftwood. Activated by the wind and sun, each sculpture uniquely moves, changes, and adapts to the environment, inspiring community conversations surrounding our roles within and relationships to nature.

Maria Shell: Off the Grid (May 15-October 16) features 14 works by Shell created between 2011 and 2022 that explore the ways the artist pushes the boundaries of the traditional gridded format of the American quilt. Shell produces contemporary quilts grounded in the tradition and craft of American quilt making. She takes classical components of traditional bedcovers and manipulates them to create surprising combinations of pattern, repetition, and color.

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