A Monument to Retro
Most people would expect a museum of
industrial design—a monument to Retro–to be located in a large
metropolitan city like New York or Chicago. In fact, this gem is hidden
in the hills of Vermont. Located in the town of Waitsfield, the
Madisonian Museum contains a fascinating collection of some of the best
objects of industrial design, including many
The Madisonian is the result of a lifelong dream of its founder, noted
architect David Sellers, who lives and works in nearby Warren, Vermont.
After completing his studies in architecture at Yale University, Sellers
embarked on a stunning career, designing projects all over the world. He
firmly believes that if everyday objects are designed to be both
beautiful and functional that people will use them longer, thus stemming
the tide of the world’s throwaway culture.
Located in an unassuming white New England clapboard building in the
village of Waitsfield., the exterior of the Madisonian Museum belies
what’s contained inside. It isn’t one of those slick, beautifully
designed halls of history. Instead, it’s a strictly utilitarian building
with open rafters and wooden walls. In fact, it almost has an industrial
workshop look. It’s been open to the public since 2011.
Displayed in this modest space are over
2,000 of the best designed and most artistic manufactured objects.
Ranging from the early 1900s to present day, the museum’s collection
features everything from cars, bikes and motorcycles to toys, canoes,
golf gear, radios, toasters, and typewriters.
It features the work of some of the best industrial designers and
architects, including some of history's most noted, such as Frank Gehry,
Alvar Aalto, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, Norman Bel
Geddes, Raymond Loewy,
Eero Saarinen, and Marcel Breuer.
addition to the work of the best designers, the Madisonian’s collection
includes many of the most important products in industrial design,
including those influenced by the Art Moderne Movement that began in the
1930s. Products from such leading brands as
Electrolux, RCA, Ford,
General Electric, Chrysler, Lionel, and LEGO are well represented.
The museum contains an Industrial Designers “Wall of Fame,” an
assortment of chair designs, vintage advertisements torn straight from
magazines and pinned to the walls, as well as a variety of lighting
products, a Polaroid camera, a Mason and Hamlin organ, and even a 1934
DeSoto Airflow coupe.
Just about everything on display has an interesting personal story, such
as a menu from the SS Normandie ocean liner. A couple donated it to the
museum after their visit. They had honeymooned on the ship in the 1930s
and kept the menu as a souvenir.
Sellers regularly creates special temporary exhibitions from items in
his collection, such as a chair exhibit, featuring stunning chairs from
Charles and Ray Eames and others, toy designs, featuring two of the
largest model trains every built, airplanes, and an original Mr.
It doesn’t take but an hour or so to view the exhibits. The museum is
only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons from 12-4 P.M. or
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