Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon
For 160 years, the Shakers at Mount Lebanon led the largest
and most successful utopian communal society in America. With over 6,000 acres
and 100 buildings Mount Lebanon Shaker Village was a driving force in
the agricultural, industrial, commercial, and institutional activities of its
day. With the industrial revolution, and naturally declining population of the
celibate community, the Shaker membership dwindled, and communities
consolidated and closed. The last seven Shakers left Mount Lebanon in 1947, and
the remaining property of the North Family was sold into private hands. In
1965, Mount Lebanon Shaker Village was designated as a National Historic
The iconic North Family Great Stone Barn measuring 50 wide, four stories high, and nearly 200 long, was a testament to the ingenuity, faith, and perseverance of the Shakers. In 1972 the barn was totally gutted by a catastrophic fire, leaving only its four massive masonry walls standing until this day. The following year, the North Familys First Dwelling House a 55-room abandoned timber-framed structure -- was demolished to prevent further vandalism and threats to adjacent buildings on the site. Built-in casework and furnishings were removed from the Dwelling House and sold at auction, or rescued for display at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In the 1980s a not-for-profit organization was founded to preserve the site and open it for public use, but lacking sufficient funds, the site was listed as endangered by the National Park Service in 1993.
In 2001 the Shaker Museum and Library was awarded a Save Americas Treasures grant to investigate the feasibility of acquiring the site, and preserving its thirty acres and ten extant Shaker buildings, for reuse as the centerpiece of the new home of the Shaker Museum and Library. SMandL retained a nationally-prominent design team led by Cooper, Robertson & Partners of New York City, and Robert Silman Associates, structural engineers, to perform a comprehensive historic structures and cultural landscape assessment, and create a Master Plan for reuse of the site. The site is now owned by the Shaker Museum and Library.
The Master Plan calls for conserving the masonry walls of the Great Stone Barn and building a new 50,000-sf museum and library within its stabilized shell and on the footprint of the three original wings.
Using data collected by laser surveying, fiber-optic boroscopic investigation, and geotechnical engineering probes, the schematic design for the Great Stone Barn will reverse the original circulation pattern of the Great Stone Barn with visitors entering at the lowest western level, and traveling up through the building through three floors of galleries and research library areas to arrive at the top floor, with it public Gathering Room and miles-long view over the remainder of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, the Berkshires, and the Taconic Valley below. Classrooms, the Museum Store, and a seasonal cafe will provide the visitor and campus resident with opportunities for participating in a wide range of program activities and educational courses, as well as shopping, dining, and enjoying the serenity and beauty of the 30-acre historic landscape.
Funding for the Mount Lebanon Project is made possible through a combination of private donations, charitable foundations, and government support at the local, state, and national level. Work is underway to conserve and stabilize the masonry walls so that new construction can take place.
The North Family Site at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village is designated as one of only six sites in the USA on the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Endangered Sites for its significance, for its urgent need for preservation, and for the viability of the plan to meet that need.
Open: The Museum is open in 2017 from June 16 through October 9, Fridays through Mondays from 10 AM to 4 PM.
The Emma B. King Library is open year-round by appointment. Click here to send an email request.
Museum Store Hours: The Museum Store is open during regular museum hours. Our online store is open year-round.
Guided tour tickets are $10, $8 for members, and free for members at the Friend level or higher; tour tickets include access to all exhibitions. Combo tickets for both guided tours are available for $15, $12 for members. Stand alone entry to exhibitions is by donation. Children age 12 and under are free. Advance reservations are recommended for groups of 10 or more. All admission donations support the projects and programs of the museum.
The Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon is a proud member of Blue Star Museums, offering free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Guided Tours: Please note these are largely outdoors, 1 - 1.5+ hour walking tours on sometimes uneven ground and varying inclines; appropriate footwear is recommended. All tours depart from the Visitor Center. Not all historic buildings are fully handicap accessible. If you have special needs while visiting the site, please notify us in advance and we will make every effort to accommodate you.
The North Family Shakers - 11:00 AM
Mount Lebanon was the leading Shaker society in America for 160 years from its founding in 1787 through its closing in 1947, and the North Family was its face to the wider World, composed of some of the most progressive and public Shakers in history. Join this tour for an in-depth look at this special group.
Perfect Work: Sisterhood in the North Family - 2:00 PM
Explore the lives of Shaker women at the North Family, and how the work they performed - operating businesses, working in shops and gardens, interacting with the World’s people, and managing their own affairs - was a physical manifestation of Shaker views on equality, both in how they expanded and limited women’s roles and options for living. Over time, into and through the 20th century, the community came to be largely presided over by Sisters rather than the Brethren. Development of this tour was supported by Humanities New York.
Museum Store: Located in the Visitor Center and open during regular museum hours, the Museum Store features a carefully chosen selection of items, including new and used books, Shaker reproductions, locally-made gifts, and products made by the living Shakers of Sabbathday Lake, ME. The store is open year-round online.
Friends Lending Library: The Friends Lending Library includes rare and out-of-print books on a wide range of subjects related to the Shakers. Members can request and take out on loan any title. All are welcome to browse and read the Library's books during our open hours.
Browse the Library Catalog.
The Shaker KidsSpace: Located in the historic Poultry House, the Kidspace is a fun, creative, hands-on learning space for young visitors exploring Shaker life and culture. Inspired by the Shaker Kidspace originally featured in The Shakers: America's Quiet Revolutionaries at the New York State Museum.
LOCATION & DIRECTIONS
Mount Lebanon Shaker Village is located approximately 1 mile
on the right from the junction of routes 20 and 22 in New Lebanon, NY going
east on Rt. 20 toward Pittsfield, MA. Address: 202 Shaker Road, New Lebanon, NY 12125
View Larger Map
Mail: Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon
PO Box 630
For information on activities and events
at Shaker Village | Mount Lebanon,
please go to our Calendar of Shaker Events