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May 19 @ 10:00 am - 6:00 pmFree
Shaker Museum, which stewards the most comprehensive collection of Shaker material culture and archives, presents its latest exhibition “Inscribed” with more than 25 historical objects on display, and explores how inscription and the written word were integrated into Shaker design.
With Inscribed, Shaker Museum presents objects made of wood that have been marked in some way – with stenciled or hand-painted notations or incised by stamping or carving names or initials into wood – all of which provided information about how the objects were used, who used them, or where they were used. Although Shakers held all things in common and were expected to treat community property as such, it was common for members to mark tools with their names or initials to notify others that they were the primary user. After all, cabinetmakers did not expect others to use, or even more concerning, to sharpen their tools. A second set of initials occasionally appear on a tool that was passed on to another Shaker. It was also important that everyone understood the proper use of things. For example, sieves made to be used in sorting or cleaning garden seeds should not be used to sift wood ash – marking it clearly as belonging to the “Seed Loft” avoided such confusion.
Among other objects of interest, Inscribed showcases an array of historic buckets denoting each one’s use with labels like “fire,” “oatmeal,” “beans,” and “rice.” There is a collection of sieves from the 1800s. The size of the sieve rim and how tightly the mesh was woven determined how the sieve was intended to be used and the markings on each kept the inventory in order. Bowls, baskets, building signs, wheelbarrows, tailor’s rulers, bonnet patterns, die stamps, and stencils are also on display. The range of material on display in this exhibition underscores how prevalent inscriptions and marking were in Shaker culture.
The exhibition will run from Friday, March 17 through Sunday, May 28. Exhibition hours are Fridays and Saturdays 10am-6pm, and Sundays 11am-4pm.