Shaker Museum


The Shaker Museum is open Memorial Day Friday through Columbus Day (observed).

Monday through Saturday (Closed Sundays)

10:00 to 4:30 (EST)

Historical Context

The Sabbathday Lake Shaker Museum is located within the perimeters of the only active and functioning Shaker Community in the world. The museum was first organized in 1931 by Sisters Iona Sedgley and Ethel Peacock in hopes of educating the public about the "truths" of Shakerism. Thousands of visitors have come to explore this unique and sacred place of work and worship.

Six of the 18 existing structures at Sabbathday Lake are open to the public. Throughout these buildings there are twenty-seven exhibit rooms which explore a continuum of over 200 years of Shaker heritage in the Maine Communities.

Shaker Museum Tour Schedule and Description

We are pleased to offer our visitors guided tours of the premises at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village. These tours provide valuable insights into the Maine Shaker heritage and culture of the past as well as the present.

Shaker Village Guided Tour: 1 hour - Available Memorial Day through Columbus Day

  • Adults $10.00
  • Family pass (parents and children): $30.00
  • Children, ages 6 - 12: $4.00
  • under 6: FREE

TOURS WILL BEGIN AT

  • 10:30 a.m.
  • 11:30 a.m.
  • 12:30 p.m.
  • 1:30 p.m.
  • 2:30 p.m.
  • 3:15 p.m.

"Creating Chosen Land: Our Home 1783-2010" (included free with guided tour above, or purchase alone for prices below)

  • Adults $7.00
  • Family pass (parents and children): $20.00
  • Children, ages 6 - 12: $2.00
  • under 6: FREE

Shaker Herb Garden Tours (included free with guided tour above, or purchase alone for prices below)
Tuesdays & Thursdays - June, July, and August
2:15 PM - reservations suggested
Adults $7.00; Children, ages 6 - 12: $2.00; under 6: FREE

GROUP TOURS OF THE MUSEUM ARE AVAILABLE BY ADVANCE RESERVATION.

About the Tours

Tours depart from the Museum Reception Center, which is housed in the 1850 Boys' Shop. The 1794 Meetinghouse, designed by Brother Moses Johnson, is the architectural jewel of the Village and continues to be used by the Shakers for their current worship services. The exhibits in the upper chambers of this building explore the organization of the Shaker Church and describe developments in the Maine Shakers' lifestyles, architecture, furniture and costume into the eve of the Civil War.

Four of the five exhibit rooms in the Ministry's Shop tell of Shaker history into the 1900s by telling the life stories of Elder Otis Sawyer (1815-1884) and Eldress Elizabeth Haskell (1852-1920). Their life stories using collection items combine to give visitors a better understanding of Shaker history in the post Civil War era. Elder Otis' and Eldress Elizabeth's personal involvement in so many aspects of Shaker life- spiritual growth, fancy goods, industrialization, outreach, village growth, historiography and music- tell a compelling tale that allows the visitor to better appreciate the current Shaker presence here in the early years of the 21st century.

The fifth and final exhibit room in the Ministry's Shop is the exhibit "The Fruitage Will Never Fail: The Sabbathday Lake Shaker Orchards." The exhibit tells the story of the fruit growing history at Sabbathday Lake spanning the years from the 1780s to the present day. Highlights include photo murals that tell of the people and places involved in one of the oldest continuous farm operations in Maine - one question to be answered on the tour, what Shaker invention revolutionized the processing of apples?

Once the location of nearly 20 work rooms for dozens of Shaker Sisters, the Sister's Shop is still used by the Sabbathday Lake Shakers for the production of handmade goods. Exhibits in the Sisters' Shop survey the wide array of goods, such as candy and comestibles, along with sewing notions and other "fancy goods" that the Shakers manufactured for sale during the Victorian Era and into the 1960s. In this building, many visitors find themselves surprised by the Shakers interest in progressive technology. Telephones, electricity, central heating and even the automatic washing machines (the earliest example built from two and a half tons of granite!) attest to their belief in modernization and technology throughout their history. In this same building, visitors will have the opportunity to view the "headquarters" for the modern culinary herb and herbal tea business. Workers pack herbs as they have been packed by the Shakers for nearly 200 years.

The 1816 Spinhouse has an exhibit titled "Creating Chosen Land: Our Home Since 1783." The exhibit tells through the Shaker buildings' histories the story of the establishment, change and growth of Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village ( the village's spiritual name is Chosen Land) from its establishment in 1783. The story is ongoing as Sabbathday Lake remains an active community of Shakers. Using current and historic photographs, dozens of artifacts, audiotapes and film, visitors will see the dynamics of a religious community as a place of residence, work and worship. The exhibit is self-guided following a brief introduction by a receptionist. Gallery guides are available for use in the Spinhouse. An exhibit catalog is for sale. Admission is either by ticket for exhibit admission only or in combination with a tour of the Shaker Village

Please Remember

During our scheduled season, we welcome all visitors to the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village to share in the experience of this active site of work and worship. We request that all visitors remember that this site is a home and to respect the privacy and work schedules of the Shaker Community. With the exceptions of the Shaker Store and Museum Reception Center, access to any building is restricted by guided tour only.

Visitors' Facilities

The Museum Reception Center and Shaker Store are open to the public, free of charge, during the regularly scheduled season. Come and browse through a unique selection of books, Shaker-made goods, locally-produced handicrafts, woodenware, baskets, and the wide selection of culinary herbs and medicinal teas which are still packaged by the United Society of Shakers. The 1850 Boys' Shop (also the Museum Reception Center) features the exhibit "Come Little Children, Come to Zion: Growing Up at Shaker Village". This exhibit was created with the interests and curiosities of all young people in mind. Come explore unique aspects of nineteenth century living and learn about the lives of Shaker children in Maine. This exhibit is open to visitors at no cost.

The Shaker Store, Shaker Library, Museum Reception Center and rest rooms are all wheel chair accessible. Please contact the museum with any further concerns.

Meals are not available at the Village. A wide selection of restaurants are located nearby in the towns of Gray, New Gloucester, Poland, Lewiston, and Auburn.

Museum Research Facilities

We encourage any scholar, researcher, author, or Shaker enthusiast to explore the vast wealth of information, history, and culture represented at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village. The collection at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Museum is available year round to researchers and scholars by appointment only.

This Museum is the largest repository of Maine Shaker culture. Fine examples of furniture, woodenware, oval boxes, tin and metal wares, tools and technology, "fancy" sales goods, textiles and costume, visual arts, as well as medicinal and herbal products are among the 13,000 artifacts currently housed in the Sabbathday Lake collection. Although the collection represents every Shaker Community known to have existed, special emphasis has been placed upon preserving the heritage of the Maine Shaker Communities, including Sabbathday Lake, Alfred, Gorham and Poland Hill.

Museum research appointments should be made with Michael Graham, Director of the Shaker Library and Shaker Museum.

Shaker Museum
707 Shaker Road
New Gloucester, ME 04260
Telephone: (207) 926-4597

Office email: usshakers@aol.com

Monday through Friday 8:30 to 4:30 (EST)