Shaker

The collection of Shaker furniture and crafts at The Art Complex Museum is widely recognized among authorities for its fine examples of classic Shaker design. The initial interest in things Shaker came from Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Sanborn, whose home in the Berkshires was close to the Hancock and New Lebanon Shaker communities. Mrs. Sanborn passed this enthusiasm on to her son Carl and his wife Edith, who recalls the first purchase of a Shaker rocking chair at Paine’s Furniture when her oldest son Charles was born in the 1940s. Although the original did not survive, another was acquired to complete the full range of sizes for the collection – 0 to 7, designed for the small child through large adults.

Mrs. Sanborn became active with the restoration of Hancock Shaker Village through her friendship with its president, Amy Bess Miller. Carl’s mother asked him to promise to continue to look after Hancock Shaker Village; indeed he had, along with his son Charles, who has served loyally on its board of trustees for many years.

As Amy Bess Miller stated, “It is rare that three generations in a family are so committed to the same enduring interest. Carl Weyerhaeuser’s desire to have a more intimate knowledge of Shaker craftsmen has enriched the history of this revered sect and brings us to a deeper understanding and empathy for an uncommonly industrious, practical and gifted people”.

There are several works in the ACM’s collection that have been borrowed for important exhibitions and reproduced in definitive books on Shaker furniture and design. Outstanding among them is the Dwarf Tall Clock crafted by Benjamin Youngs, Sr. in Watervliet, New York, a Shaker community active from 1806 to 1910.