Art has always been part of Albany's 400-year old history. The city's skyline is defined by four centuries of architecture. Many of these historic structures are considered architectural marvels or are filled with artistic treasures. Explore Albany County's museums, landmarks and heritage sites to learn about the area's storied past through art.
Photo courtesy of the Albany Institute of History & Art
Founded in 1791, the Albany Institute of History & Art is the second oldest museum in the country. The museum boasts a treasure trove of art and historical objects documenting the life and culture of New York's Upper Hudson Valley from the late 17th-century to present. Famous for its breathtaking collection of Hudson River School paintings featuring legendary artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Jasper Cropsey and Asher Durand, this fantastic museum should top every visitor's (and local's) bucket list.
With its picturesque chambers and storied past, the New York State Capitol building is an architectural gem not to be missed. Marvel at the Million Dollar Staircase and see if you can spy George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or Alexander Hamilton among the 77 Famous Faces carved into the standstone. This grand staircase took over 10 years to construct and features the work of hundreds of stonecutters and carvers. Wander down the "Hall of New York" to view breathtaking depictions of New York's natural and architectural wonders by a variety of painters. Or, peruse the portrait gallery in the "Hall of Governors" and learn something new about New York's history.
Photo courtesy of NYSOPRHP/Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site
Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site is a Georgian-style mansion that was the home of Revolutionary War Major General Philip Schuyler and his family. Numerous projects to restore the elegant mansion have occurred, including the "Ruins of Rome" wallpaper. Through Philip Schuyler's 1761 travel receipts, we know this 18th-century hand-painted English wallpaper once embellished the mansion's halls. After a detailed process, there are now stunning reproductions of the "Ruins of Rome" adorning the downstairs entry hall and upstairs saloon.
Discover New York's Dutch heritage at the country estate of Casparus Francis Pruyn. Built in 1825-1830, the Pruyn House in Colonie features a blend of Federal and Greek Revival architecture. The country manor, which was a 182-acre working farm, is decorated with landscape paintings, portraits and photographs of the Pruyn family.
Ten Broeck Mansion, home of the Albany County Historical Association (ACHA), was built in 1797-1798 for Revolutionary War General Abraham Ten Broeck. The Federal-style mansion features portraits of Abraham and Elizabeth Van Rensselaer Ten Broeck, a portrait by famed folk painter Ammi Phillips and a rare wax portrait of two Ten Broeck grandchildren.
America's first Shaker settlement is now the site of Shaker Heritage Society in Colonie. One of the most successful communal societies in American history, the Shakers influenced American cultural identity through their craftsmanship, innovation and music. The unique architecture of the 1848 Meeting House was designed to accommodate the dancing and a cappella singing at the core of Shaker worship. The building remains a great place for dance, singing and craftsmanship today.
48 Hudson, the Van Ostrande-Radliff House, was built in 1728 and is the oldest surviving building in Albany. Historic Albany Foundation is working to stabilize and preserve this important piece of America's Dutch history. As an effort to raise money and awareness, there is a large theater scrim draped over the building depicting what the building may have looked like in the 1700s. The rendering is based on research from the New Netherland Research Center and was designed by artist Lee Dixon.
The congregation of the First Church in Albany was established in 1642 and is the second oldest congregation in New York State. In addition to housing the oldest pulpit in America, the historic church boasts beautiful Tiffany stained-glass windows.
Admire the splendor of "Albany's Castle," the State University of New York's System headquarters. Designed in a Flemish Gothic style, the opulent structure was built in 1914 as the Delaware & Hudson Railroad corporate offices and to screen the view of the railroad yards as an attractive backdrop for State Street. The southern part of the building was constructed a few years later to house the Albany Evening Journal. The 13-story high central tower is capped by an 8-foot-tall working weathervane that is a replica of Henry Hudson's ship the Half Moon.