AS THE SHAKER MUSEUM GETS A MODERN MAKEOVER, THE INSTITUTIONS’ NEW ARTIST-LED MAKERS’ CIRCLE WEIGHS IN ON THE EVOLVING INFLUENCE OF SHAKER STYLE TODAY.
Arriving in the United States around 1774, the Shakers were a Utopian sect who created a distinctly new design vernacular. Prioritizing function above all else, they favored simple, pared-down aesthetics that allowed an object’s materiality to shine. The group was also known for championing gender and racial equality, communal living and sustainability. At their peak in the 1900s, thousands of members resided throughout the Northeast, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
Today, the Shaker Museum in Chatham, New York, continues to tell their story, showcasing the most comprehensive collection of art, furniture, objects and materials in the country—much of which was out of view for the last decade. The museum will soon enter a new iteration, and double in size, as it moves to a 19th-century industrial building within Colombia County, where Selldorf Architects and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects are heading up interior and exterior renovations respectively. An inaugural Makers’ Circle, consisting of contemporary artists and designers, is collaborating with the museum’s leadership on institutional decisions. As executive director Lacy Schutz notes, “the Shaker Museum continues to convene and engage a community of creatives connected to its material culture and whose work is informed by it today.”
Shane Rothe (they/them) joined Shaker Museum in July 2023, working with independent curator Maggie Taft on an exhibition for the new museum space in Chatham. Shane is an artist as well as a curator and continues to create in the mediums of painting, sculpture, writing, and performance. Shane holds a BFA from CalArts and an MA in art history and curatorial studies from the University of Chicago.