When Ann Lee and a small group of followers left England and arrived in the United States in 1774, they established Shakerism as both a religion and a way of life. The Shakers were guided by core values of conviction, integrity, inclusion, and innovation, and they believed society could be perfected, and a paradise on earth created, through communal living, gender and racial equality, pacifism, confession of sin, celibacy, and separation from the world. Those who chose to become Shakers entered a secluded community that expected hard work and great self-discipline and sacrifice. For the Shakers, the routines of daily life were a place to demonstrate one’s faith.
The men, women, and children who left “the world,” as they called it, to join the Shakers nevertheless brought with them ideas and preferences shaped by that world. As a result, Shaker rules were always evolving. Even so, members regularly wrestled with the challenge of living by Shaker tenets.
Through an array of photographs, furniture, prints, apparel, and other objects in the permanent collection of the Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, Shakers: In Community highlights the different ways in which Shakers sought to forge equitable and inclusive communal bonds, and the difficulty of making good on those efforts in everyday life.
Shakers: In Community opens on July 17 at 17 Main St, Chatham, NY. The exhibition will close on October 4, 2020.