07.17.15

SCHUMER SECURES $460K IN FED FUNDING FROM NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES FOR HISTORIC RESTORATION AT THOMAS COLE HOUSE; FUNDS WILL BE USED TO SUPPORT THE HISTORIC SITE & UNCOVER LONG LOST ART TREASURES PAINTED BY THOMAS COLE; PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN MURALS WERE DISCOVERED AT COLE’S HOUSE IN GREENE COUNTY – SCHUMER ALSO VOWS TO KEEP FIGHTING FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO RESTORE NEWLY FOUND ARTWORK

Earlier This Month, Schumer Visited The Thomas Cole Historic Site, Which Is Dedicated To Honoring ‘The Father Of The Hudson River School’ – Site Experts Recently Discovered Murals That Cole Painted In The 1800s Hidden Behind Common Wall Paint & Requested Grants From Fed Agencies To Preserve Previously Undiscovered Murals 

Schumer Made Personal Call To NEH Chairman To Advocate For Cole House; NEH Then Approved $460,000 For The Project, Approximately 75% Of The Funding Needed – Schumer Also Vowed To Fight For Additional $150,000 Grant The Site Has Applied For Through The Fed Institute Of Museum And Library Services 

Schumer: Wall Mural Is A Historic Discovery – Feds Should Put Full Funding Behind Cole House & Restoration Project

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today announced, following his push, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has approved a $460,000 grant for the home of famed landscape artist and founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole. The historic site, located in the Village of Catskill in Greene County, recently discovered that Cole had painted decorative friezes in two of the rooms of his home around 1836, which are believed to have been covered by common wall paint around 1900. The paintings were unknown and lost to history until recently, when efforts to restore the rooms and their original color revealed the hidden treasures. Following the discovery, the site found strong evidence that the paintings are, in fact, by the American master, and as such are bona fide American art treasures. The site then applied for two federal grants so it could continue to uncover these murals and restore them.

As a result, Schumer visited the site earlier this month and made a personal call to NEH Chairman William “Bro” Adams to advocate for the Thomas Cole Historic Site’s grant application for $460,000. Following his push, the NEH awarded these funds to the Thomas Cole Historic Site. Schumer said he will also continue to push for the additional $150,000 in federal funds through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that the site has applied for. Schumer vowed to continue to push for the full federal funding needed to support the Cole House and make the uncovering of these murals a reality.

“The discovery of the Cole’s murals was a historic moment for Upstate New York and all American culture. With this announcement, the Thomas Cole Historic Site moves one step closer to having the full federal funding it needs to support the Cole House and preserve Cole’s murals so it can share them with the world,” said Senator Schumer. “This project would not be possible without these National Endowment for the Humanities funds – a vital institution to preserving and promoting the humanities in American culture – and I was proud to advocate for this federal investment on the Cole House’s behalf. Now, we have 75 percent of the funding critical to make these restorations possible – and I will continue to push for the remainder of the funds needed to uncover these treasures and ensure they can be enjoyed by all who visit the site for generations to come.” 

“We are overjoyed about the grant award from the National Endowment for the Humanities and all that it will enable us to do. We are greatly blessed to have a leader in Senator Schumer who understands the importance of conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. This grant will have a transformative effect on this historic site, providing an opportunity for the public to engage with a story that sheds light on our national identity. We can't wait to get started,” said Betsy Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole Historic Site.

In early July, Schumer visited the Thomas Cole Historic Site, located in the Village of Catskill in Greene County to push for the federal funds needed to make this discovery and restoration project a reality. Schumer explained that the Thomas Cole Historic Site was awarded an NEH Planning Grant in 2014 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 in the East and West Parlours, presumably from the 1830s. These decorative friezes in two of the rooms in his home had been covered by common wall paint around 1900.

As a result, Schumer said the Thomas Cole Historic Site immediately began a request for NEH and IMLS grants to begin restorations that would allow historians and art experts to fully uncover the paintings and preserve them for future viewing while maintaining the structural integrity of the house. In order to expose the paintings and then restore them, the Thomas Cole Historic Site applied for federal funds from both the NEH, in the amount of $460,000, and the IMLS, in the amount of $150,000. These grants, Schumer said during his visit, would be critical to ensuring the site can bring in the appropriate experts to preserve the walls of the house while simultaneously exposing the paintings. The grants would also fund a complete restoration of the East and West Parlour in the Main House and bring interactive exhibits to enhance the visitor experience. Finally, the grants would allow the site to pay for a multi-media presentation in the East Parlour and a recreation of the frieze in the West Parlour.

After his visit, Schumer made a personal call to the NEH Chairman Adams to advocate on the Thomas Cole Historic Site behalf. Following his push, the NEH awarded these $460,000 in federal funds needed to support 75% of the projects work. Now, Schumer says he will continue to push for the additional $150,000 in IMLS funding needed to make this restoration project a reality. Grant awards for the IMLS are set to be announced in September.

Schumer said these beautiful murals would have never been discovered without the federal funds provided in 2014 for the initial restoration project. During his visit, he said additional funds are needed to restore and uncover more of these gems that are expected to be found in Cole’s former home. The Thomas Cole Historic Site has long sought grants to fund restorations of the. Since 2009, the site has been working to complete a comprehensive proposal to restore the furnishings, wall décor and overall interior throughout the house. The goal of the plan was to make the house a more accurate representation of Cole’s home during his upbringing and childhood. In 2014, the Thomas Cole Historic Site received the NEH Planning Grant that allowed them to begin implementing their proposed changes. Mid-way though the restoration project, Mosca was brought to examine the original color of the walls in several of the first floor rooms. Much to his amazement, he discovered a decorative painting by Cole and later discovered parts of friezes in the East and West Parlours that spurred this subsequent and unsuspected effort.

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.

Copies of Senator Schumer’s initial letters to the NEH and IMLS appear below:

Dear NEH Chairman Adams:

I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by The Thomas Cole National Historic Site (TCNHS) for an Implementation Grant of $400,000 from the NEH’s program for Museums, Libraries, and Cultural Organizations, as well as support for a position in public humanities for $60,000.  Such funding will enable the TCNHS to engage visitors more deeply with the humanities themes that are raised by the life, art and writings of Thomas Cole.

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is the home of Thomas Cole (1801-1848), founder of America’s first major art movement, the Hudson River School.  Located on 6 acres in the Hudson Valley, the site includes the 1815 Main House, 1839 Old Studio, a visitor center, and several other buildings. The TCNHS is a National Historic Landmark and an affiliated area of the National Park System. The TCNHS preserves and interprets the home and studios of Thomas Cole, whose profound influence on America's cultural landscape inspires the TCNHS to engage broad audiences through innovative educational programs that are relevant today.  The TCNHS serves both local residents and visiting tourists, and has seen rapid growth in visitation.  Each year the TCNHS presents loan exhibitions, bringing press coverage and repeat attendance.  Total current visitation to TCNHS is approximately 20,000 people per year.

Having now completed an NEH-funded planning grant, the TCNHS proposes to implement an interactive multimedia exhibition entitled “A Guest in the Home” in the first floor of the 1815 Main House.  The proposed exhibition will be created in the c. 1815 Main House and its c. 1880 annex that formerly housed staff offices, and will open in May 2017.  The TCNHS has a track record of success with interactive and digital projects as evidenced by programs that were funded by five grants from the NEH in recent years.  The TCNHS also partnered with the NEH on a current traveling exhibition on Thomas Cole for NEH on the Road.  The proposed project is based on extensive research and uses imaginative formats in order to engage broader audiences than have traditionally attended historic house museums.  I applaud the Thomas Cole National Historic Site for its foresight and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.

Thank you for your consideration. 

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

Dear IMLS Acting Director Marx:

I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by The Thomas Cole National Historic Site (TCNHS) for $150,000 in funding through theMuseums for America grant program in the “Learning Experiences” category.  Such funding will enable the TCNHS to create permanent interpretive exhibits that engage audiences with the issues that are raised by Thomas Cole’s life, art and writings.

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is the home of Thomas Cole (1801-1848), founder of America’s first major art movement, the Hudson River School.  Located on 6 acres in the Hudson Valley, the site includes the 1815 Main House, 1839 Old Studio, a visitor center, and several other buildings. The TCNHS is a National Historic Landmark and an affiliated area of the National Park System. The TCNHS preserves and interprets the home and studios of Thomas Cole, whose profound influence on America's cultural landscape inspires the TCNHS to engage broad audiences through innovative educational programs that are relevant today.  The TCNHS serves both local residents and visiting tourists, and has seen rapid growth in visitation.  Each year the TCNHS presents loan exhibitions, bringing press coverage and repeat attendance.  Total current visitation to TCNHS is approximately 20,000 people per year.

With funding, the TCNHS will create and install new permanent interpretive exhibits that engage audiences with the issues that are raised by Thomas Cole’s life, art and writings.  Funding will be used to implement phase one of an interactive multi-media installation and reinvent the interpretation of the home and studios of Thomas Cole.  The proposed exhibition elements – including historic interiors both with and without audio, audiovisual segments, interactive environments, guided portions, self-guided areas, participatory experiences, and integration with web-based programs – will be designed to attract new audiences and bring them insights into America's cultural history and its relevance to the present.  I applaud the Thomas Cole National Historic Site for its foresight and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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