America’s first major art movement, the Hudson River School, was born a few miles South of Albany County in the northern Catskills. The art movement flourished in the mid-19th century, depicting the serene Hudson River Valley and its surrounding landscape, including the Catskills and Adirondacks. Immerse yourself in this historic American art movement with the ultimate arts & culture getaway in Upstate New York!


Copy of Hudson River School at Albany Institute of History & Art

Hudson River School at the Albany Institute of History & Art

Begin your journey in downtown Albany at the Albany Institute of History & Art. “The Hudson River School: Landscape Paintings from the Albany Institute” exhibit features legendary Hudson River School artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Jasper Cropsey, and Asher Durand. Nearly ninety paintings of scenic landscapes varying from rugged coastal views to magnificent mountains tell a visual history of the Hudson Valley during the 19th Century. This exhibit is permanently on display through 2019.


Thomas Cole Painting

Thomas Cole’s Paper Trail at the Albany Institute of History & Art

Learn more about the founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole, at the Albany Institute of History & Art starting on June 17, 2018. The "Thomas Cole’s Paper Trail" exhibit highlights selections from the Albany Institute's holdings of Cole's drawings and manuscript materials. The exhibit will trace Cole’s life through his earliest sketchbook and tree studies of 1823, his account book that lists the arrival of Frederic Church as a student, and drawings of the Hudson River scenes. This exhibit will be on display through December 2018.

Image Credit: The Van Rensselaer Manor House, Thomas Cole (1801-1848), 1841, oil on canvas, Albany Institute of History & Art, bequest of Miss Katherine E. Turnbull, 1930.7.2


Thomas Cole House Studio

Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Continue to discover the rich history of the Hudson River School with a road trip South of Albany County to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY. It is a National Historic Site that is considered the birthplace of the Hudson River School of landscape. Learn remarkable stories about the famous artist’s life, discover how he began this major American art movement and even see his original paint brushes, easels & tools. Guided tours are offered throughout the year, or you can explore the site including the Main House, New Studio, special exhibits and Cole’s Old Studio at your own pace.


Olana State Historic Site

Olana State Historic Site

Continue the trip a few miles across the river to Hudson, NY for Olana State Historic Site, home of Thomas Cole’s famous student Frederic Edwin Church. Church’s main house at Olana is a unique mixture of Victorian architectural elements and Middle-Eastern decorative motifs. It sits high up on a hill, so you can take in the breathtaking landscape that inspired many Hudson River School paintings. The magnificent home is open for tours throughout the year and the site also offers self-guided tours of the historic landscape. Olana is designated a National Historic Landmark and is one of the most visited tourist sites in the state, so it is definitely worth the drive!

Click here to start planning your Upstate NY arts & culture getaway now with a full itinerary.

Looking for a great deal on your getaway? Check out the Hudson River Valley's Painter's Package for a stay at The Morgan State House and passes to the Albany Institute of History & Art.