Published: November 26, 2019
MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Currier Museum of Art presents, “The Shakers and the Modern World,” on view through February 16. The exhibition is drawn from the extensive holdings at Canterbury Shaker Village, celebrating its 50th anniversary of incorporation as a museum this year, as well as from the Currier’s own collection.
The Shakers have long been celebrated for simple, timeless design. They were seen by the world as a devout group with pure values which were reflected in their design of furniture and household objects. Their attempts to convert outsiders to their radical form of Protestantism caused much anxiety in America; as a result, the Shakers developed a branding strategy to counter negative public opinion. They fashioned positive images of themselves for the press throughout the second half of the Nineteenth Century and produced large quantities of Shaker goods for sale to the public. By the early 1900s, the population had declined, and the village began to promote tourism to increase its visibility and generate revenue. Historic documents illustrate that the Shakers were quick to embrace printed media and photography to promote a more positive image.
“Shakers were widely revered for their utopian social experiment. This respect was achieved in part by the Shakers’ astute management of their image,” stated Andrew Spahr, director of collections and exhibitions at the Currier Museum. “This exhibition is a rare opportunity to explore not just the beautiful designs that we know from traditional Shaker images, but to learn about how they were cutting-edge in their branding strategies and how in the Twentieth Century, the Shaker style inspired Modernist designers in Europe and America who were drawn to the simple lines and careful craftsmanship.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by public and educational programs developed in collaboration with Canterbury Shaker Village.
The Currier Museum features paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and photographs, including works by Monet, Picasso, O’Keeffe, Wyeth and LeWitt. It presents exhibitions, tours, art classes and special programs year-round. The Zimmerman House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a part of the museum.
The Currier Museum is at 150 Ash Street. For information, 603-669-6144 or www.currier.org.
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