Each year, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site presents loan and collection-based exhibitions of historic and contemporary art across the site.
Browse our past exhibitions.
Women Reframe American Landscape
Susie Barstow & Her Circle
May 6-October 29, 2023
In the New Studio, Main House, Old Studio, and outside
A two-part, single exhibition and accompanying publication illuminating the artistic contributions and perspectives of women. The project will reinsert the accomplished 19th-century American artist Susie Barstow (1836-1923) into the history of the Hudson River School of landscape painting and present work by contemporary artists who expand and challenge how we think about “land” and “landscape” today.
Mind Upon Nature: Thomas Cole’s Creative Process
In the Main House
This exhibition is an exploration of the Thomas Cole’s working process, ideas, and vision. As evidenced in Cole’s artwork and writing, he was fascinated with art, nature, myth, history, and called for a balance between the natural and built worlds. In this special new installation, visitors will see major paintings by Cole alongside a rich array of the artist’s sketches, the books and objects that inspired him, and the pigments and materials that Cole used to realize his artworks.
The Pollinator Pavilion (2020)
at The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park at Newfields, Indianapolis, IN
Designed by internationally renowned artists Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood, the Pavilion provides a fantastical architectural setting to encounter birds year-round while exploring a nurturing relationship with nature. The installation at Newfields will include plantings indigenous to Indianapolis, complementing the work Newfields has done through the Wild Birds Unlimited Native Pollinator Meadow and other efforts to support pollinator populations and expand native species.
About Historic Exhibitions
Each year, The Thomas Cole National Historic Site invites a guest curator to bring a new perspective to Thomas Cole’s work by creating a new exhibition of nineteenth-century art in Thomas Cole’s reconstructed New Studio. The exhibitions bring together artwork from museums and private collections across the country.
About Contemporary Exhibitions
OPEN HOUSE: Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole is an annual series of curated contemporary artist installations located within, and in response to, the historic home and studios of artist Thomas Cole. Operating from the concept that all art is contemporary, the program activates conversations between artists across centuries. Exhibitions and artworks have ranged from those that literally reference Thomas’s iconic works to those that expand on issues and themes relevant to him, including art, landscape, history, and balancing the built and natural worlds. OPEN HOUSE projects shed light on the connections between nineteenth century American art and our contemporary moment.
About the Permanent Exhibition
Mind Upon Nature: Thomas Cole’s Creative Process is an exhibition of original objects and works of art on view in the Main House. The exhibition explores Thomas Cole’s working process, ideas, and vision through a rich array of sketches, the books and objects that inspired him, and the pigments and materials he used to realize his artworks. This exhibition is refreshed annually and highlights original objects and artwork from the museum collection and major works on long-term loan. It is located inside the Main House.