Important Shaker Objects on View at the Portland Museum of Art

Wall Clock, Mount Lebanon, NY, 1840, 34 1/2 x 11 x 4 1/8 inches Andrews Collection, Hancock Shaker Village. Photo by Michael Fredericks.


“Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” John 6:12

The Portland Museum of Art is presenting an exhibition of the most significant collection of Shaker objects. “Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection,” is on view Oct. 27 through Feb. 5, 2012.

“Gather Up the Fragments” tells the story of the first and most avid collectors of the Shaker art, Edward Deming Andrews and his wife, Faith Young Andrews. This exhibition of more than 200 objects will feature Shaker furniture, printed works, visual art, tools, textiles, and small craft collected over four decades from the Andrews collection. The most comprehensive collection of Shaker materials ever assembled, the exhibition will provide insight into the Andrews’s complex role as pioneers in the field of Shaker studies.

Organized by the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, this exhibition examines the full scope of the Andrews’ involvement with Shakerism-as scholars, collectors, and dealers. From the 1920s through the 1960s, the Andrews actively pursued Shaker objects, collecting mainly from the Shakers themselves. Through careful documentation and scholarship the Andrews illuminated these materials, and their collection has bequeathed to future generations the most comprehensive body of evidence on the culture of the United States of Believers.

The Collection became the lifetime passion of the Andrews who were struck by the beauty of the objects in a Shaker kitchen they chanced to visit in 1923. From the 1920s through the 1960s, the Andrews actively pursued Shaker objects, gathering pieces from the Shakers themselves, all at a time when the art and artifacts of the Shakers were not considered to be serious art. They produced numerous pioneering publications that examined many facets of Shaker life, and in effect launched the field of Shaker studies. Edward Andrews died in 1964, and his wife, Faith, died in 1990 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where she was born.

Gather Up the Fragments will feature the work of Shaker communities in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire and includes loans from private collections. Specific objects, particularly those whose acquisition was documented by Faith Andrews in her book Fruits of the Shaker Tree of Life, will be exhibited in the context of their addition to the Andrews Collection.

Gather Up the Fragments is accompanied by a 400 page full-color book published by Yale University Press and authored by Mario S. DePillis, professor emeritus of the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, and Christian Goodwillie, curator of collections at the Hancock Shaker Village. The book is the first to document the Andrews collection, presenting some 600 photographs, most never before published. The book will be available in the Museum Store in the fall.

The exhibition was organized by Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, MA and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Wright Express. Museum admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students with I.D., $4 for youth ages 6 to 17, and children under 6 are free. The Museum is free on Friday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Museum Cafe and Store. For more information, call 775-6148 or visit www.portlandmuseum.org.