Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

February 16, 2006

Cathy Jimenez

$2.2 Million Rehabilitation Project Underway At Olana

Landmark Historic Site Upgrades Protections for Collections

(Albany, NY, Thursday, February 16, 2006...) New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro today announced a $2.2 million rehabilitation project at Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, New York. Plans for the installation of new fire suppression and climate controls systems at the renowned 19th century home of artist Frederic E. Church will upgrade the museum, providing better protection of the collections and enhancing the visitor experience.

"This latest project at Olana underscores Governor Pataki's and the state's longstanding investment and commitment to protecting such an important New York landmark and cultural resource here in the Hudson Valley," said Ms. Castro, Parks Commissioner and State Historic Preservation Officer. "With the temporary removal of the collections and installation of the new state-of-the-art equipment and systems, we have an exciting opportunity to showcase some of these magnificent works across the nation while the upgrades are underway on site.

"Along with The Olana Partnership, we look forward to an exciting 2006 season introducing new exhibits for visitors while still offering the extraordinary landscapes so dear to Frederic Church, and eagerly await the improvements to the museum and return of these precious collections."

The project is supported through a $650,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional funds from New York State. Installation of the new systems is scheduled for the 2006 season. During that time, the house will be closed because the renovations will require significant disruption of the interior, however visitors are still welcome to experience an array of programs and activities at the 250-acre historic site.

Alternative tours of the house and grounds will be available along with a new exhibit in the Visitor Center that opens to the public in April. An award-winning film about the artist and his home will be shown daily in the center's theater. School and education programs on site and outreach will continue to be offered. Events that focus on the beauty of the natural environment at Olana, as well as art shows, concerts and family programs are all part of the 2006 site public calendar. The Museum Shop, operated by The Olana Partnership, will continue to serve visitors to the site.

"This year of alternative programming opens up marvelous new opportunities for the public to experience with fresh eyes the incomparable beauty of Olana's landscape, considered one of the few remaining "picturesque" landscapes in the country, commented Sara Griffen, president of The Olana Partnership.

In addition to the ongoing programming taking place at the property, the rehabilitation project has provided a unique opportunity for a special exhibit of some of the most important works of art from the Olana collection to tour the country. The exhibit, Treasures from Olana, opened in Cooperstown, NY this past summer and traveled to Houston, Texas for the winter of 2005. The show is currently at the National Academy of Design in New York City. Later venues will include San Marino, California; Portland, Maine; ending in early 2007, in Princeton, New Jersey.

The packing and moving of paintings and collections at the 19th century home of artist Frederic E. Church began last year. Conservators and collections care staff, working with site staff and volunteers, have been recording and packing collections in preparation for the move to protective housing or to the state's collections care facility while the new systems are being installed. Staff will take advantage of the time the house is closed to institute various collection conservation projects as well as develop new interpretive programs that will be offered to the public when the site re-opens. Actual contract work on the house should begin in mid-April and extend through October. The winter of 2006-07 is scheduled for the re-installation of collections, with the house again open to visitors in the spring of 2007.

For more information about the historic site and its programs visit the websites and or call 518-828-0135. Olana State Historic Site is a designated National Historic Landmark and one of the most visited sites in the state. The Olana Partnership, a private not-for-profit education corporation, works cooperatively with New York State to support the restoration, development and improvement of Olana. Together, TOP and New York State have raised more than $10 million to benefit educational programs, support scholarly research, acquire objects, and maintain and restore the building and grounds.