Accessibility at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Everyone is welcome at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and we are committed to enabling all visitors to experience the historic place where the artist and environmentalist Thomas Cole (1801-1848) lived and worked. Thomas Cole founded the nation’s first major art movement, now known as the Hudson River School. The 1815 Main House, 1839 Old Studio, and 1846 New Studio are wheelchair accessible. The Main House is accessible by an elevator lift to the first floor. The second floor is currently not wheelchair accessible. We provide printed and digital materials that describe and depict the second-floor experience. Additional information is provided below on accessibility services.

Wheelchair Access

Thomas Cole’s 1839 Old Studio and Visitor Center is handicap accessible through the main Visitor Center entrance. This barn-like structure includes Cole’s painting studio where he worked from 1839 – 1846 and created many of his most iconic and celebrated works. Furnished with his original easels and painting tools, it is arranged as though the artist has just stepped out. The Old Studio can be accessed through the Visitor Center entrance. The Old Studio can also be viewed with 360 Explore,” through which visitors may view the spaces virtually with a personal smartphone, or from afar with a computer. A hands-free function is included.

Thomas Cole’s 1846 New Studio is also handicap accessible though the side entrance. This building was originally designed by Thomas Cole and was built in 1846, but demolished in 1974 before the site became a museum. The New Studio was reconstructed according to Cole’s design and reopened in 2016. Today, the space features a museum-quality gallery with annual special exhibitions and hosts the annual lecture series, the Sunday Salons. The main entrance has two small steps up, but the side door has a ramp. If you prefer to use the side door, ask the Visitor Center staff to call over to the New Studio, and the gallery attendant can open the door and greet you.

The first floor of the 1815 Main House is newly wheelchair accessible by an elevator lift. Thomas Cole lived here with his wife Maria Bartow Cole, their children, and Maria’s family from 1836 until Cole’s death in 1848. Today, the first floor of the artist’s home features the immersive installation The Parlors, which combines a multimedia experience with meticulous historic restoration.

The second floor is not wheelchair accessible. It is accessible only by a flight of stairs. It includes period and Cole original furnishings, Thomas Cole’s artwork and objects, and the collection-based permanent exhibition Mind Upon Nature: Thomas Cole’s Creative Process. Modern chairs are kept throughout the house for visitors who wish to sit down. For guests who are not able to access the second floor of the Main House, ask the staff for a visual guidebook to the second floor.

Also available online is 360 Explore,” through which visitors may view the Main House and Old Studio virtually with a personal smartphone, or from afar with a computer. A hands-free function is included.

The walking paths on the grounds are loose gravel. The parking lot is standard asphalt and includes a number of handicap spaces.

Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

The experience of visiting the Thomas Cole National Historic Site includes several multimedia displays, one of which includes audio. The 6-minute audio-visual display in the East Parlor of the Main House is transcribed in a printed hand-out so that visitors can read what is being said. The multimedia presentations in the West Parlor are silent—there is no audio component.

Please feel free to reach out to or 518-943-7465 if you have any questions, and please check back for announcements on improving our accessibility.

Jennifer GreimThe Thomas Cole National Historic Site Accessibility