Vermont Granite Museum

Vermont Granite Museum, Barre: Address, Phone Number, Vermont Granite Museum Reviews: 5/5

Vermont Granite Museum
Speciality Museums • Natural History Museums • Science Museums • History Museums
The Vermont Granite Museum is located within an authentic turn-of-the-century granite manufacturing plant, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We offer our guests a stimulating environment for discovering the geology, technology, and art of Vermont's unique granite heritage using a variety of interactive displays that will engage both children and adults. In addition, our visitors
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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9 reviews
Very good

Film G
New England695 contributions
A Labor of Love: Good Technicals and Social History
Sep 2020 • Couples
These folk really know granite. Ask anything, and they’ll know the answer: types, transport, cutting, sculpting, uses. Plus there’s much on the social issues of Barre and the workers. Lots of immigrants: Basques, Danes, Italians, Scots, Quebeckers and more. Plus the rough politics. There’s one story of a local Italian anarchist who got shot dead by a socialist during a labor riot. Truly a labor of love, a tour is max an hour. Kids would like it. Give it a chance and visit.
Written September 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Montpelier, VT2,990 contributions
More Than You Think: Granite Arts, Labor Unions and Railroads
Aug 2020
The granite industry has always been multi-faceted, and this museum offers a good "slice of life" perspective on the many different developments happening simultaneously to support it from the 19th century to the present. Yes, there is plenty of good info on the granite arts, which are beautifully on display at the local Hope Cemetery as well as Montpelier's Green Mount Cemetery. But there is also thoughtful discussion of labor unions and labor strife, and enough about the railroads to invite train buffs like the two of us to visit here. Giant chunks of granite have been moved by rail from the earliest days, and if you stand by the tracks in Barre or Montpelier long enough you can still see them passing through.

Here below are 4 of my favorites from the visit.

I really enjoyed the small exhibit on the new wood SCULPTURE OF CERES, the Roman goddess of agriculture and fertility installed late in 2018 on the golden dome of the State House. This exhibit goes back to the original statue of 1858 and shows the progression of its replacements as time and weather degraded the iconic work of art. The new statue, carved by Chris Miller right here at the Granite Museum, is beautifully detailed and very appealing. After learning all about it and the history of the Ceres dome-toppers, you will want to visit the Vermont State House to see it and probably to photograph it.

The historical displays on the LABOR UNIONS, including the strikes aimed at achieving better, safer working conditions and higher pay, are fascinating and have a good deal of resonance with workers' rights movements of today. Barre's old Socialist Labor Party Hall, a national historic landmark, is well known by locals and still offers programs and presentations.

The story of the RAILROADS really impressed. You know they were important even before entering the museum, because right out front you'll see a static display of a GE 70 ton switcher, Barre & Chelsea #14, hauling a large block of granite carved with the museum's name. Inside, there are wonderful old photos, route maps, and memorabilia to be seen. The heyday of railroads is now long gone, but there are interesting remnants, including in this part of Vermont. Currently, Vermont Rail Systems is in the process of upgrading its rail freight tracks between Barre and Montpelier. You can see the work being done if you walk or ride along the recently opened Montpelier Bike Path. More granite will likely be passing through on these upgraded tracks.

To illustrate the timeliness of the Granite Museum's displays and exhibits, let me also note that there's a fascinating storyboard on the "SPANISH INFLUENZA" of 1918 that, as it turns out, was one of the direct causes for so many of the beautiful granite memorials to have been erected in local cemeteries. Yes, the flu pandemic was a great stimulus to the funerary arts, sadly for the many families affected but leaving lovely, wistful monuments that even today steal our hearts. Many beautiful examples can be seen here. The display also offers insights into the struggles of quarry workers, granite cutters, and granite carvers, whose lungs weakened by silicosis, popularly known as "Stonecutters disease," made them particularly susceptible to the pandemic of that day. In fact, Barre had the highest death toll of any Vermont municipality from the Spanish flu. A general resonance with today's Covid-19 outbreak will likely be felt by many visitors.

GOOD TO KNOW: The museum is open to the public Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 AM to 4 PM. Entrance is by donation. It is mostly self-guided, although knowledgeable volunteers are on hand to answer questions and provide information beyond what is shown in the displays. The more you put into this yourself, by carefully reading the information on display, the more you will get out of your visit. This is an all-volunteer operation, so please donate with that in mind.

TAKEAWAYS: If you are enthusiastic and wish to continue your broad view of Vermont's granite industry, you can take away some follow-up literature, to include maps and brochures to guide you through visits to local cemeteries (Hope, Green Mount, and Elmwood) and a 2-mile long local walk-about pinpointing interesting statues ("Barre Granite Sculpture Quest"). If interested in wandering a bit further afield, you can also pick up a map of the extensive walking and biking trails that run through the historic quarry lands of Millstone Hill. They are accessed via two trailheads at the edge of the Barre Town Forest. Just ask for the Millstone Trails map. These very useful maps and guides entail printing costs, so please consider making an additional donation for what you take away.

Highly Recommended.
Written September 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Jabbeke, Belgium1,931 contributions
Information about granite carving
Oct 2019
We visited this museum on October 11. There is free parking in front of the museum. You will find information about the carving process and some of the artists.
Do not expect a state of the art museum
Written November 18, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Bruno Z
Meaford, Canada308 contributions
Great exhibit
Jun 2018 • Couples
This was a great exhibit showing the granite and it’s importance in Barre. Great to learn about how it worked and the employees that worked in the industry. The difference in pay for the workers and unions function in the industry. Saw old advertisements and papers and different stages in the granite to make headstones. Bill at the front is great but he doesn’t stop talking. He is a bundle of information.
Written July 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

vermont348 contributions
Learn about Barre Granite History
Jun 2018 • Couples
As a Vermonter I knew very little about how huge the granite industry was in the boom time. Shows how there were hundreds of family granite companies and the population grew from 2000 to 12,000. Having just read the book Bread and Roses that had a lot to do with the granite workers taking in hungry children from the homes of striking woolen mill mothers from Massachussets I was interested in the displays here of the labor unions and the strikes that took place in Barre.. The person in charge of the museum took a lot of time to explain how the carvers first made a plaster mold of the piece they were going to carve and how they used that to get the correct dimensions for their work. Lots of things for kids to do. Would suggest visiting this after Rock of Ages and Hope Cemetery to get the full picture.
Written June 3, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Robin D
44 contributions
Vermont History of Granite and Stone
Aug 2017 • Family
The old Jones Brother Granite Plant is a great place to learn all the many uses of stone found in Vermont long history of stone and the local Barre Industry. Along with learning how Granites and Marbles are converted into beautiful outdoor art and memorials, carved by Granite Sculpture, or Sandblast into stone. You will also learn about the people that immigrated - Scotts, Irish, Italian, French and Polish that help make Barre area well known for it superior products. The exhibits show the processing of stone from the quarrying of the stone, the processing of the stone, the art of stone, and the steps and support needed to create quality products. A reasonable fee is charged for entry, souvenirs and hand on handouts are also .available. The building while open for visits is also used for some stone training classes and sandblasting, while also the building is available for renting for events.
Written March 3, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

New Rochelle, NY6 contributions
Incredibly helpful
Aug 2017 • Couples
The museum is still in process but had lots of hands on exhibits that looked like they'd be great for kids. Most helpful was the recommendations from the incredibly nice museum guide who told us to take a hike through the abandoned quarries and provided detailed maps.
Written August 12, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

vermont5 contributions
Jul 2017 • Friends
Always enjoying seeing the improvements and addictions when I visit Barre every summer for vacation. Keep up the great work! Definite great place to visit.
Written July 2, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Roger S
Northfield, NH93 contributions
Jun 2017 • Couples
What an amazing museum. Lots of opportunities for hands on activities for kids but also engaging displays and descriptions of the granite industry in Barre and by extension in Vermont. We had great attention from the museum staff who not only answered questions but expanded our understanding of stone carving and sculpture. Highly recommend a visit by anyone of history or an art persuasion.
Written June 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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