Shaw is an independent scholar and curator who writes and lectures on many aspects of American folk art and studio crafts. He is the author of such critically acclaimed books as American Quilts: The Democratic Art, Bird Decoys of North America, Hand Made, Hand Played: The Art & Craft of Contemporary Guitars. The Art Quilt, Quilts: A Living Tradition, America's Traditional Crafts, and American
Baskets. His most recent book, Electrified: The Art of the Contemporary Electric Guitar was published in 2011 by Sterling Publishing in New York, and he is at work on a major book on American weathervanes.
Bob was curator at the
Shelburne Museum from 1981–1994, where he worked with that
institution's world-renowned collections of American folk art. He has
curated exhibitions at s
the National Gallery of Art, the University of Michigan Art Museum, the Houston Museum
of Natural Science, and the Dallas Museum of Natural History,
and lectured at the American Folk
Art Museum, Sotheby's, the de Young Museum of Art, the Fenimore Art Museum,
and dozens of other institutions.
From 1998-2003, he was
curator of special exhibits for Quilts Inc./International Quilt
Festival in Houston, and he has curated exhibitions of antique
and contemporary quilts at museums and expositions in the U.S., Europe and
Japan. He curated the landmark exhibition "The 100 Best American Quilts of the 20th Century" at International Quilt Festival in October 1999," and his special exhibition, "Three American Masters—Kate Adams, M. Joan Lintault, and Susan Shie," was seen by more than 259,000 people at the 2009 Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival
Bob also has contributed to numerous books and exhibition catalogs, including Expressions of Innocence and Eloquence: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana, Volumes I and II ; written articles for The Magazine Antiques, Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, Fiber Arts, Early
American Life, Sports Afield, and Decoy Magazine; and served as a consultant to Sotheby's and museums and collectors across the country.