Why Carousels were Placed at the End of the Train Line

Carousel at Shelburne MuseumRound Barn housing Carousel at Shelburne MuseumCarousels were often placed at the rail line’s end to encourage people to keep riding. Stay on a few more stops and then instead of riding in a straight line, you can ride in a circle.

But I shouldn’t be snarky, I love carousels. What makes them so romantic?

One of the carousels at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont is disassembled, yet placed in a round barn, so you get the effect of motion. The art and artistry are spectacular.

And then there’s the functioning carousel outside. and yes, I rode it. And yes, I was the only adult on it. And yes, it was blissful. And yes, the staff recognized me all day and commented that I was the woman who rode the carousel and had a blast. These are the kinds of things I like to be known for.

Did You Know a Museum can Make you Giddy?
Neither did I. But the Shelburne Museum, ahh. They sell tickets with multi-day passes for a reason. The museum is said tho have the “best and fullest collection of Americana ever assembled.” Well, you don’t have to tell me twice: Americana the Beautiful, people. 

37 historic buildings on 45 acres, a jail, a print shop, a lighthouse, art collections that stunned me, a 220-foot steamship, and a partridge in a pear tree.

This is a must see. So much so that if Vermont isn’t on your list, go to Vermont in order to experience this museum. Seriously.

Degas-two-dancers at the Shelburne MuseumMonet Haystacks at the Shelburne MuseumWorld Renowned Art–Just Hangin’ Around
The benefactors’ New York apartment is re-created on the grounds, replete with mahogony furniture and a few paintings you may have heard of: Degas’ dancers, Monet’s haystacks.

The curator was fussy with me for not reading the laminated cards placed in each room to educate you about the art. I responded, hopefully with awe, that I studied these in Art History and can’t believe I’m seeing them as part of a household. Thank you, but I don’t need the laminated card.

I mean, I know that art comes from personal collections, but I’d never fully comprehended that oil and canvas could be hanging above a bed, the same way those very posters hung above mine in college. It was like being in the presence of someone powerful and famous; I was dumbfounded by the access to the art.

Over the River and through the Woods
How else would you get to Grandmother’s house but in a sleigh or carriage? How about 100 of them? This is one many items the family collected. Of course they did. From simple to magnificent, they filled two levels of a barn. And let me tell you, I wanted to go sleigh riding so badly! Carriage, not so much–I foresee bladder discomfort.

Stagecoach at Shelburne Museum

Someone was Obsessed with the Circus. And Had a lot of Free Time.
For reasons I don’t fully understand, there’s a building full of miniature circus scenes. A whole building, people. The detail, scope, and obvious obsession were impressive. I jest at the obsession, but in truth isn’t all art borne of obsession and passion? This happens to be in an arena (pun intended) that doesn’t inspire me. But clearly inspires others.

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.

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Miniature Circus, posted with vodpo

Curious about the Printing Press? Of Course You are!
And of course the Shelburne Museum has not one, but many. The machines themselves are works of art. And to be a printer was an art of patience: each letter was placed one at a time and upside down. Then in the 1950’s linotype progressed things to one sentence at a time. Melt the plate and rewrite.

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.

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Could there Possibly be Any More?
Yup! A collection of hats to fill a pseudo haberdashery. Quilts that are so intricate it’s touching. Lamps made from exquisitely cut paper. And all the exhibits I didn’t see.
Which museum has touched a part of your soul? Made you so excited about inanimate objects that you’re giddy and slightly embarrassed?
Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.

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Disclaimer: many of these photos are from scanned postcards or other people’s work found on Flickr.

2 Responses


Your trip to Vermont was far more interesting than mine. Envious; wish I’d had access to your research and insights before tripping.

[…] Lake Champlain, Ben & Jerry’s, Teddy Bears, covered bridges, incredible Americana at the Shelburne Museum, and a Frank Olmstead landscape design at Shelburne Farms. Vermont surprised me with how much I […]

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