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The Henry Sheldon Museum Is A Window into Vermont's Past

By Marina I. Jokic

It has been said that Middlebury is one of the best documented communities in New England. Thanks to the diligence of Henry Luther Sheldon who collected a variety of documents, art, and objects, we have a rare glimpse into nineteenth and twentieth-century life in a small town.

Since 2015, the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, Vermont following a two-year alliance, continues to be in a partnership with Historic New England, a major preservation society on the forefront of protecting the area's historic buildings, landscapes, and collections, through early 2018. Historic New England, previously known as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, is a charitable, non-profit organization headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. The recent cooperation between the two organizations has spurred more visitors, broadened the scope of the museum, and elevated both organizations' brands.

Built in 1829, the museum is headquartered in the notable Judd-Harris House, which was erected by marble merchants. In addition to the panoply of precious objects, the Sheldon Museum paints an accurate picture of 19th and 20th-century life in Vermont, a unique glimpse into the far past. The complex consists of the contiguous two-level Cerf Gallery, the Stewart-Swift Research Center which houses one of the state's most expansive collection of archives, and the Walter Cerf Gallery which hosts revolving exhibits throughout the year.

"At the moment, my favorite exhibit is our current [one] "Draw Me a Story ? Tell Me a Tale" which celebrates the imagination of 18 esteemed contemporary Vermont children's book artists [and] authors," Mary Ward Manley, associate director of the museum, said. "Their paintings, illustrations, and photographs as well as books that feature their artworks [make the exhibit much more personal].

"It is so impressive to see the talent represented in these diverse art works," Manley said. "The subjects are fun, whimsical, fantastic, informative, and delightful [and] the exhibit appeals to all ages; it is [especially] rewarding to see young children reading with [their] parents and grandparents [at] the exhibit."

An active education program offers tours for area school groups. Public programs at the Sheldon Museum include a popular Holiday Open House, a model train exhibit in November & December, an outdoor Pops Concert in the summer, and a variety of other engaging activities.

The collection continues to grow each year, making the Sheldon Museum the cultural heart of the region. Recent exhibits include Pedaling through History: 150 Years of the Bicycle, The Glenn Eames Collection, Warren Kimble: All-American Artist, and Charity & Sylvia: A Weybridge Couple.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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