Inside Decoys from Shelburne Museum

Inside Decoys from Shelburne Museum

Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT houses one of the most significant collections of hunting decoys in the United States. A collection of collections, the basis was formed in 400 of the decoys collected by Joel Barber (1876-1952), architect, author, and illustrator of Wild Fowl Decoys. First published in 1934, Wild Fowl Decoys is considered a thorough account of American decoy making and the first work to discuss decoys as works of art. Though not a hunter, Barber began collecting decoys in 1919, and exhibited 116 of the works in his collection in an exhibition sponsored by Abercrombie and Fitch in 1932 (Chitwood 1987, 164).
Today the decoy collection at Shelburne Museum numbers around 1,200, and is comprised of game birds, shorebirds, fish, and amphibians made in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Decoys made of painted wood, metal, textile, paper, and rubber are represented. 
 With the desire to learn more about these objects from a technical point of view, the conservator at the museum worked with radiological technologists Carol Kittredge and Michael Blakeslee at the University of Vermont Medical Center to image a few of the birds. The following is the result of some of that work.

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