In the spirit of its founder, the great Hudson River School painter Frederic Church, Olana’s 2019 season of events is rich in adventurous, thoughtful and in some cases downright experimental programs – not necessarily the staid curatorial approach that one has maybe been conditioned to expect of historical sites. Accompanying the vibrant programming is a parallel emphasis on education and public outreach.
Nine new tours offered by the Olana Partnership cover different aspects of Olana, including Frederic Church and the Hudson River School, the architecture and design of the Main House, the Church family’s life at home and abroad and the history and design of the historic landscape. Guests are now offered an “Explore at Your Own Pace” tour option every afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m., which gives visitors the chance to discover the Main House on their own and ask questions of the knowledgeable guides along the way.
Guided tours of the historic landscape are available daily for the first time, and explore the forests and meadows, the farm and lake, the carriage roads and the expansive views from Olana, the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. The goal of the tours, state Olana’s curators, is to move Olana to the forefront of historic house museums as a holistic environment and world-class destination, present visitors with a memorable and educational experience and shed light on the significance of Frederic Church as one of the preeminent American artists of the mid-19th century.
The season features “In Frederic Church’s Ombra: Architecture in Conversation with Nature,” a design exhibition curated by Barry Bergdoll open through November 3. Bergdoll (of Columbia University and the Museum of Modern Art) invited a group of today’s most exploratory architects to respond to the transitional outdoor rooms at Olana that are so essential to the original 19th-century design of Olana’s Main House. The resulting exhibition combines hand-drawn sketches, painted renderings, three-dimensional models and video and computer animations.
Running from June through November is “Artists on Olana,” in which six contemporary artists in multiple media lead performances and conversations along Olana’s historic carriage roads, examining practice and place through disciplines in photography, music, dance, scent and film. The nine remaining events take place on Saturdays from July 13 through November 9. See the Olana website for the event description and times.
Olana 2019 tours & programs
Olana State Historic Site
5720 Rt. 9G, Hudson