Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

August 07, 2009

For Release:Immediate
Press Contact:
Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

Crailo State Historic Site Highlights New Exhibit On Dutch Colonial Life

Upgrades to home and fort of early Dutch settlers part of ongoing revitalization of park system

Permanent exhibit on Dutch heritage opens for Quadricentennial Celebration

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash today celebrated a new interpretive exhibit and facility improvements at Crailo State Historic Site in Rensselaer as part of the ongoing effort to revitalize the state park system. The new exhibit, A Sweet and Alien Land: Colony of the Dutch in the Hudson River Valley, is the only permanent installation depicting the story of the Dutch colonists to be presented in this Quadricentennial year.

"The newly improved Crailo Historic Site underscores State Parks' commitment to revitalizing our park system," Ash said. "Thanks to the tremendous support of so many public and private partners, this important landmark in New York's history is being given new life as part of the Quadricentennial celebration of Henry Hudson's exploration of the Hudson River. It is critical that we continue to invest in these irreplaceable parks and historic sites which celebrate this area's important Dutch heritage."

"The upgrades and improvements to Crailo are both timely and significant, particularly for this area," said Congressman Paul D. Tonko. "The deep cultural foundation upon which this region is built helps to define the communities in which we live and enriches the lives of all of us. By continuing to invest and promote places like Crailo, we are ensuring that our unique heritage is preserved, shared and passed on for generations to come."

In collaboration with Friends of Fort Crailo and other public and private partners, $135,000 was invested to revitalize the 25-year-old exhibit at the home of the influential Van Rensselaer family. In addition, the state invested $87,000 in capital projects to help make Crailo sustainable for the future, including interior and exterior improvements and a new climate control system, replacing a 33-year-old boiler with a new 95 percent energy-efficient heating and air conditioning system.

Ash noted the Crailo improvements are part of a state park revitalization initiative to address the estimated $650 million backlog of in capital needs in the parks system. Over the past two years, Governor Paterson and the state Legislature authorized nearly $200 million in capital improvement spending for New York's 178 state parks and 35 historic sites to tackle the backlog.

Visitors to Crailo will experience a 17th century Dutch House room reflecting life along the Hudson 400 years ago. Common items can be found including: costumes, glassware, hand crafted pottery, furniture and a Dutch cupboard bed. Patrons have the opportunity to handle trade objects and slide maps that illustrate the impact of European settlements on the Native American populations. A touch screen computer explains how historical evidence gets buried over the years.

Crailo is the only museum in North America devoted exclusively to the 17th century Dutch settlers and fur traders of New Netherland, and their Native American trade partners. The unique history of Dutch New Netherland is told through hundreds of images of Dutch life both in The Netherlands and in New Netherland, by archaeological fragments found in local "dig" sites on both sides of the Hudson River, historical documents and through whole objects found in both the Netherlands and in New York and New Jersey.

Crailo is one of 35 state historic sites and 178 parks within the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation. Friends of Fort Crailo is a not-for-profit organization that supports the research and interpretive programs at Crailo State Historic Site. For more specific details about the event at Crailo, please call (518) 463-8738. For further information about New York State's parks and historic sites, visit