The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is in the final stages of creating a new way to encounter a historic house museum — a project that’s been in the making for nearly a decade. Visitors will experience the artist’s home with a new immersive installation that combines technology and meticulous historic restoration, featuring the earliest-known, interior decorative painting by an American artist.
Opening May 2017
The Thomas Cole staff, board members and scholar advisers are now in the final stages of creating a new way to encounter a historic house museum — a project that has been in the making for nearly a decade. Visitors will experience the artist’s home with a new immersive installation that combines technology and meticulous historic restoration, featuring the earliest-known, interior decorative painting by an American artist. Through hidden audio and moving-graphics presentations, visitors will be able to hear the thoughts of Thomas Cole (1801-1848) and the historic conversations that took place in the parlors of his 1815 home, where America’s first major art movement, the Hudson River School of painting, was founded. In November 2016, Senator Schumer visited the site to reveal Thomas Cole’s original hand-painted decorations that have been uncovered on the walls of the historic Main House as a part of this project. The ongoing restoration will be featured in special behind-the-scenes tours from January through April, and The Parlors will open in May 2017.
Senator Chuck Schumer and Cole Site Director Elizabeth B. Jacks looking at Cole’s painted decorative borders in the East Parlor of the artist’s home. November, 2016
After Thomas Cole moved into the Main House in 1836, he completely redecorated the two parlors and the entrance foyer that connects them, transforming the interior spaces according to his vision of a stylish environment for displaying his paintings. As part of this dramatic redecoration, Cole himself painted elaborate decorative borders around the circumference of both the East Parlor and West Parlor, using pigments and paints the only he — as a fine artist on the cutting edge of paint-making — would have had access to. The decorative borders were first discovered in the fall of 2014, having been buried beneath over a century of paint. The borders are now undergoing restoration and will be on view with the opening of “The Parlors Project” in May 2017.
Storytelling With Technology
The East Parlor will be restored to the way Thomas Cole designed it — with bright grass-green walls and an elaborate painted border up near the ceiling. At first glance, the room will appear as a static furnished interior; however, the framed paintings on the walls will reveal an audiovisual presentation that uses Cole’s own words — taken from his written journals and letters — to provide a window into what drives him as a person and as an artist.
In the West Parlor, also fully restored to Thomas Cole’s own design, visitors will have the opportunity to encounter three conversations between Thomas Cole and his patrons, revealing provocative content about landscape, beauty and art.