Shelburne Museum Presents Founder Electra Havemeyer Webb's Passions in 'Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scale' Online Exhibit

  • SHELBURNE, Vermont
  • /
  • May 05, 2020

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Edouard Manet’s work "The Grand Canal — Venice (Blue Venice)," from 1875 is featured in the “Color” section of the online exhibition "Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scale" at Shelburne Museum.

For the first time in its 73-year history, Vermont's Shelburne Museum will not open for summer due to concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, Museum Director Thomas Denenberg announced. For virtual visiting, the museum’s first online exhibition, Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scaleopened on April 18 and continues in a series.  

The museum’s 45-acre campus and 39 exhibition buildings have been closed since mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but visitors can experience Shelburne in online exhibitions with recorded talks from curators, behind the scenes conservation insights and activities. Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scale is focused on Shelburne Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb and her passion for American folk art. The exhibition explores her collecting ethos as she assembled one of the earliest and largest collections that would become the foundation for the museum.


Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scale will launch in four parts. The first, Color, features an overview of the exhibition and a gallery of objects that illustrate Mrs. Webb’s fascination with color. Viewers are able to play recordings by museum curators detailing the objects and can learn about behind-the-scenes preparations narrated by conservators. In addition, viewers can participate in hands-on activities based on the exhibition themes.

“The exhibition aims to recreate the museum experience for visitors to enjoy in the comfort of their own homes,” said Kory Rogers, chief curator and Francie and John Downing curator of American art. “Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scale offers a sampling of beautiful, colorful and whimsical objects from the collection that are meant to bring wonder, joy and a smile to the viewer.”

Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory (British, 1745 84) Pair of Chelsea Swan Tureens, 1752 58 Porcelain, 10 7/8 x 11 3/4 x 16 3/4 in. & 18 3/8 x 10 3/8 x 18 3/8 in. Gift of the Electra Havemeyer Webb Fund, Inc., 1961 184.92.1&2
Shelburne Museum

Color, Pattern, Whimsy, & Scale explores Electra Havemeyer Webb’s idiosyncratic, intuitive and imaginative approach to collecting and features both well-known masterpieces and surprising treasures in Shelburne Museum’s diverse collection. Color features vibrant art objects including French Impressionist painting Blue Venice by Edouard Manet, painted furniture from the 18th century and a striking orange and black carousel tiger made by artisans at the Dentzel Carousel Co. circa 1900.

Forthcoming exhibitions include American Stories an overview of the early American experience as seen through the art, architecture and collections of Shelburne Museum.

William Matthew Prior (American, 1806 73) Mrs. Nancy Lawson, 1843 Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 25 in. Museum purchase, acquired from Maxim Karolik, 1959 265.34
Shelburne Museum

Founded in 1947 by pioneering folk art collector Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888–1960), Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, is the largest art and history museum in northern New England and Vermont’s foremost public resource for visual art and material culture. The Museum’s 45-acre campus is comprised of 39 buildings including the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education and Webb Gallery featuring important American paintings by Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Grandma Moses, John Singleton Copley, and many more. For more information, please visit

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