SCHUMER RETURNS TO THOMAS COLE’S HOUSE IN CATSKILL TO PUBLICLY REVEAL LONG LOST ART TREASURE PAINTED ON THE PARLOR WALLS BY THOMAS COLE, THE FATHER OF THE HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL; SENATOR WILL PUSH FEDS TO APPROVE TWO NEW HISTORIC RESTORATION PROJECTS SO HISTORIANS CAN CONTINUE RESTORING THE GREAT ARTIST’S HOME
Last Year, Schumer Visited The Thomas Cole Historic Site In The Village of Catskill, Where The Great American Landscape Artist Lived – Museum Discovered Borders That Cole Painted That Were Previously Hidden Under Layers Of Wall Paint
Schumer Urges Feds To Expeditiously Approve Two New Projects To Continue Mission Of the Cole Site; Senator Recently Secured Over $600K So That These Lost American Treasures Could Be Restored
Schumer: Fed Investment Will Help Unravel This Historic Discovery
Standing at the Thomas Cole Historic Site in Catskill, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today publicly revealed the long lost paintings by Thomas Cole and pushed the federal government to award the ongoing project with additional federal investments. Schumer said these investments would help historians and preservationists unravel even more of this historic mystery. Until recently, the paintings were unknown to the world and Schumer said more is yet to be discovered. Last year, Schumer visited the site and was able to successfully secure over $600,000 in critical federal funding to restore the rooms to Thomas Cole’s original interior design.
“This discovery was a historic moment for Upstate New York and all American culture, and I was proud to help deliver the federal funding needed to make this recovery and restoration project possible. After 18 months of hard work, I am beyond thrilled to be here today as the Thomas Cole Historic Site reveals what treasures it has discovered and shares them with the world,” said Senator Schumer.
Schumer continued, “Without the initial federal grant last year, who knows how long these beautiful painted borders would have remained undiscovered. These kinds of federal investments have helped propel discovery and preservation right here in Greene County, and we need to build on that success. That is why I am also launching my push to secure an additional $500,000 in federal funds that will help the Thomas Cole Historic Site bring a high-tech interactive exhibit to the museum and protect the premises with top-notch fire suppression equipment. These smart federal investments will allow visitors to fully experience the wonder of the Hudson River School as well as ensure these historical gems can be enjoyed by all who visit the site for generations to come.”
Schumer explained that the Thomas Cole Historic Site, located in the Village of Catskill in Greene County, is the site of the preserved home of American painter, poet, and essayist Thomas Cole. Cole is most famous for his landscape paintings of the Hudson River Valley that inspired the Hudson River School, which encompassed a movement of landscape artists and enthusiasts influenced by romanticism that sought to depict the beautiful Hudson River Valley and its surrounding areas, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and White Mountains. According to the Thomas Cole Historic Site, Cole became known for his vision of wild and untouched scenery.
In 2014, the Thomas Cole Historic Site was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Planning Grant for the purpose of designing a new visitor experience to the site, including creating a new interactive narrative, restoring the original interiors, and making the site more representative of Cole’s upbringing and career. However, during the federally funded restorations, internationally renowned paint finishes expert Matthew Mosca discovered decorative paintings in Cole’s home in the East and West Parlors, presumably from the 1830s. As a result, the Thomas Cole Historic Site immediately began a request for two federal grants so it could begin restorations that would allow historians and art experts to fully uncover the painted areas and preserve them for future viewing while maintaining the structural integrity of the house.
In July 2015, Schumer visited the Thomas Cole Historic Site and pushed for more than $600,000 in federal funding so the Cole House could restore the two parlors in which these murals were discovered and further unearth these hidden treasures. By later that month, Schumer had secured $460,000 in NEH funds to kick-start the project. The remaining funding was secured through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant; Schumer announced the $150,000 in federal funds in September 2015. Ever since, the Thomas Cole Historic Site has been hard at work uncovering these friezes and restoring the murals in the East and West Parlors of the house.
Schumer today toured the Thomas Cole Historic Site to see the progress the museum has made over the last 18 months. Schumer said it was truly amazing to see the entire decorative border in the West Parlor finally revealed, as well as the 18-foot frieze exposed in the East Parlor. This project could not have been completed without the funds secured by Schumer, and he said he was proud to have helped make this restoration project a reality.
In addition, during his visit, Schumer launched his push to secure two new federal grants that will help build upon this worthwhile project. Specifically, the Thomas Cole Historic Site is submitting a request for $200,000 in IMLS funding this December. This funding would allow the site to create a high-tech interactive exhibition in the second floor rooms of Cole’s home, which would enable visitors to step up to an easel and create their own digital version of a Thomas Cole painting. On top of this funding, the site is applying for $300,000 in NEH funds to install a fire suppression system in Cole’s home so that the whole building – including the newly discovered decorative painting in the parlors – will be better protected from fire emergencies.
Finally, during his visit, Schumer announced that the Thomas Cole Historic Site has been recommended for a $30,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for its 2017 exhibition on the artist Sanford Gifford. Schumer said this funding is well deserved and, while the tentative funding recommendation is not yet official, he has high hopes that this funding will be awarded shortly and will allow the project and exhibit to be further bolstered by this federal funding.
Schumer was joined by Betsy Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole Historic Site.
“Until very recently it was completely unknown that Thomas Cole was the interior designer of his home and had actually painted directly on the parlor walls. We are so grateful to Senator Schumer for his help in securing the necessary funds to reveal these extraordinarily beautiful hand-painted decorations and restore the parlors to the way Thomas Cole had designed them. The restored parlors will open to the public in May 2017,” said Betsy Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole Historic Site.
The Thomas Cole National Historic Site preserves and interprets the home and studios of Thomas Cole, whose profound influence on America's cultural landscape inspires the site to engage broad audiences through innovative educational programs that are relevant today. The Thomas Cole National Historic Site serves both local residents and visiting tourists, and has seen rapid growth in visitation. Total current visitation to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site is approximately 20,000 people per year. The Thomas Cole National Historic Site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and a National Historic Site in 1999. Cole was a 19th Century artist known as the father of the Hudson River School. His paintings are known for their realistic depictions of American landscape and wilderness.