Much of Shelburne’s decorative arts collections, among the finest and most extensive in the country, are exhibited in Variety Unit. The galleries house pewter, scrimshaw, glass, Staffordshire, mocha ware, Toby jugs, trivets, food molds, dolls, dollhouses, and automata. Variety Unit, so named because of the eclectic range of collections it exhibits.
Variety Unit was built as a brick farmhouse about 1835 in Shelburne and is the only structure original to the Museum site. A series of additions, in the New England tradition of continuous architecture, created the rambling exhibition building. Although the current entrance is at the west end of the building, the original Greek Revival front façade, with its front-gable orientation and a fully articulated pediment, is on the east side facing the road.