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On Exhibit

March 2024
1min read


Visitors to the new home of the American Folk Art Museum, in midtown Manhattan, often remark on its resemblance to a motor home, with exhibit space, a cafeteria, a shop, and everything else artfully shoehorned into a 40-foot-wide plot. But in Shelburne, Vermont, at the vastly more spacious Shelburne Museum ( www.shelburnemuseum.org ), the connection between folk art and recreational vehicles has been made even more explicit with American Wanderlust: Taking to the Road in the 20th Century , on view from June 1 through October 27. Vehicles on display range from the first commercially built auto camper (1909) through “a psychedelic 1960s hippie bus,” from which most of the smoke should have cleared by now, to a 1970s pickup truck with slide-on camper, and beyond. And when visitors encounter the rest of the sprawling museum’s collection—including circus posters, carriages, quilts, Impressionist paintings, duck decoys, and many other widely assorted objects, not to mention a superb side-wheel steamer forever at anchor on a green hillside—they may wish they had brought an RV of their own, so they could stay an extra week or two.

Amid all the high-tech wizardry of the Afghan war, today’s Special Forces soldiers still use horses to traverse the region’s rugged hills. To recognize the equine contribution to an earlier conflict, Kentucky Horse Park—magnificently unfolding over a thousand bluegrass acres behind its presiding deity, a bronze statue of the great Man o’ War—will until September 10 be paying tribute to the immense role played by horses in the Civil War. Soldiers rode perhaps 100,000 of them, while a million and a half were recruited as draft animals. Their average lifespan, once they joined up, was six months. With artifacts, paintings, and photographs, Horses of the Civil War tells the whole story, from Robert E. Lee’s beloved Traveller to the brave and disciplined cavalry mounts to the staggering logistics involved in having their workaday colleagues haul an army’s worth of supplies up to the firing line. For information about Kentucky Horse Park, which is just north of Lexington, call 859233-4303 or visit www.kyhorsepark.com .

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