50 OBJECTS PROGRAM Hands to Work and Hearts to God: Shaker Oval Boxes

This is one of the special activities that will share insights into some of the contents shown in our current exhibition The Capital Region in 50 Objects. Our guest presenters will share their expertise on video games, Shaker crafts, and military cannons today!

Starlyn D’Angelo, Executive Director, Shaker Heritage Society

Join D'Angelo for a special lecture and tour about Shaker oval boxes.

Free with museum admission

About the Shakers:

The Shakers were spiritual seekers from Manchester, England, who fled to America in 1774 to escape religious persecution. Their founder, Ann Lee, was an illiterate textile mill worker who sought a more personal faith than was offered by the official Church of England. Lee and her followers were regarded with suspicion as they built a home at the site where Albany Airport is now located, known as the Watervliet Community. Initially they were persecuted for their religious beliefs and accused of being British spies.

The Shakers persevered and passionately worked to create “heaven on Earth” through the practice of celibacy, pacifism, communal ownership of goods, and confession of sin. They believed that God was dual in nature, being both male and female. The Shakers practiced gender and racial equality within their communities and established a complex hierarchy of authority in which men and women shared power equally.

The Shakers made a significant contribution to American and European artistic traditions. Their expressions of spirituality included thousands of pieces of music, dance forms, and many works of art such as the famous Shaker tree of life. Today, they are best known for their elegant furniture and architectural style. They continue to be a source of inspiration for artists, musicians, writers, choreographers and designers.

The Shakers of several communities made the iconic oval wood box and sold them to visitors and merchants from outside the community. 

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