A new exhibition on Shaker Baskets is now open at the Columbia County Historical Society Museum & Library, in the new Smook | Peduzzi Gallery.
Durable Beauty: Shaker Baskets from Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon was produced by the Columbia County Historical Society (CCHS) along with the Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, with the baskets on loan to CCHS from SM|ML. It will be on view for the 2018 visitor season at the CCHS Museum & Library.
Shaker craftsmen were highly skilled and their products were an expression of their world view. As labor was a form of worship, it was the duty of each believer to live purely and to strive for perfection in everything they did. Baskets in particular are coveted for their simple, utilitarian forms and durable construction. Shakers manufactured both utility baskets and “fancy-work” baskets. Fancy baskets were sold in their shops alongside other everyday items such as brooms, bonnets, and chairs.
At its peak in 1867, Mount Lebanon produced 3,866 baskets in a single year. Basketmaking began to decline towards the end of the 19th century. The last basket woven by Shaker hands was made in 1958. Today, basketmakers carry on the tradition of practical simplicity embodied in the Shaker style.
The CCHS Museum & Library is located at 5 Albany Avenue, Kinderhook.
Photo of Shaker Basket on loan from the permanent collection of the Shaker Museum provided.