ALFRED — The Alfred Shaker Museum will premiere a video Saturday that explains the history of the Shaker community in Alfred, the museum and the Shaker lifestyle.
The 35-minute video, “Simple Gifts: The Story of the Shakers in Alfred, Maine,” will show at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, when the museum opens for the season. It also will be distributed to schools across York County. The goal is to increase awareness of the Shaker history in Alfred.
The museum operates in a former Shaker carriage house at 118 Shaker Hill Road and features a permanent display of Shaker furniture, furnishings and domestic items, as well as a large mural depicting the Alfred Shaker community in its heyday. Sandra Howe of Cornish painted the mural in 2011.
The Shakers are known for a simple, agrarian lifestyle. They came to Alfred in the late 1700s and stayed until 1931, when the remaining families merged with the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester. Shaker elder Joseph Brackett wrote the song “Simple Gifts” in Alfred. Aaron Copland used the song in his composition “Appalachian Spring,” a ballet score that won a 1945 Pulitzer Prize.
Board member Mary Lee Dunn Maguire hopes that schools will use the video in their curriculums and plan outings to the museum.
“There are some people around here who still recall the Shakers in town, even though they left in 1931,” she said. “But a lot of newcomers don’t. A lot of visitors to the museum think the Shakers are some kind of Amish group, so that is what we are trying to overcome with this video.”
Regular museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, and by appointment.
The video also will be part of the Sanford Film Festival, May 31 and June 1.
Much attention will be paid to Shakerism this year in Maine. On June 14, the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland will open a major exhibition, “The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon to the World.”
On July 20, the Alfred Shaker Museum will host a concert of Shaker music.