With the whole day to explore Vermont’s capitol and Lake Champlain, and the forecast for more record-breaking temps, we head straight for the water to hike along the lake. The trail was leafy in spots and beachy in others and we especially enjoyed the prevailing breeze off the water. It felt so good to stretch our legs after clocking so many hours in the car that we spent more time hiking than we’d originally planned. According to my Fitbit, we walked a total of nine miles this day, though not all during our morning sojourn. After our hike, we found a local coop for picnic sandwiches and opted to eat in the air-conditioned cafe since it was hot away from the lake, again pushing ninety degrees.
Linda and our guidebook recommend the Shelburne Museum just a few miles up the road for an afternoon excursion.
To call this forty-five acre property a museum seems misleading. It’s more like many museums spread out across the rolling hillside. There are thirty-nine buildings, twenty-five of which have been moved to the site, along with an old steamship, The Ticonderoga, which is dry docked on the lawn. The buildings are filled with a mind-boggling variety of art, Americana and collections. The guidebook tells me that its founder and brainchild was Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) who inherited a large collection of French Impressionist paintings from her mother and then got interested in collecting collections. Part of Webb’s inherited fine art collection is housed here on site in a Greek Revival building. This collection is extensive and includes paintings by Monet, Manet, Courbet and Mary Cassatt. Also notable is that the interior of this building is an exact reproduction of Webb’s Manhattan apartment which her children built as a memorial to their mother after her death. Weird, right?
One building housed the museum’s extensive permanent quilt collection along with a special show of Amish quilts. They were gorgeous—detailed and colorful. My favorite was a predominantly yellow quilt made by a ninety-one year old woman as a wedding gift for her granddaughter.
We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the Ticonderoga. In this heat, I wished I’d been on the water instead of on the lawn and that the ship’s the dining room, all period china and crystal, had been serving cold beverages. We made due with cold bottled water from the gift shop after taking in the Sweet Tooth exhibit—paintings and sculpture, photographic art and video installations all on the subject of dessert. My favorite was this one featuring twinkies.
With only two hours to spend in this amazing place, we experienced only a small sampling of everything offered. That said, we saw some fabulous impressionist paintings, western art and all kinds of beautiful pieces.
Museum docents waved us out when they closed the doors at 5:00 and we headed straight for the local ice cream shop for happy hour craving something sweet after drooling over the desserts depicted in so many delicious formats.
If you go, plan to spend at least half a day here, or maybe two, to do it justice.