Seven benches sit in an austere room. At first glance, they appear to be similar in design. A closer look reveals this to be far from the case. Each bench possesses its own unique qualities, owing to their creator, Francis Cape, and his utilization of designs from seven different intentional communities from both past and present.
Presented in the North Family Wash House at Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, Utopian Benches places the work of Francis Cape in the context of a Shaker village; three of the benches are based on designs from Shaker villages (South Union, Sabbathday Lake, and Mount Lebanon itself), while the rest are sourced from other communal societies such as the Community of True Inspiration in Amana and the Harmony Society. All visitors receive a gallery guide, "We Sit On the Same Bench," and are invited to sit on the benches and engage with the ideas they express - community, cooperative work, simplicity.