The Albany Institute holds a large and important collection of nineteenth-century American landscape paintings, works often associated with the term "Hudson River School." They number more than ninety paintings and range in dimension from large wall-sized canvases to small business card-sized oil sketches on paper.
We know from visitors the Hudson River School paintings are among the Institute's most popular collections, and other museums request to borrow them for exhibitions more often than other collections. With such great interest in these works of national significance, the Institute is making them more accessible.
In the summer of 2017, the Institute opened a reinstallation of its Hudson River School paintings in the Hearst Gallery on the museum's third floor. For the first time, nearly all ninety paintings from this important collection is on view. These landscapes, painted by artists like Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Jasper Cropsey, Asher Durand, and numerous others, capture America's scenic grandeur in all its magnificence from rugged coastal scenery to imposing mountains and rivers.
Many paintings in the Institute's collection depict the nation during decades of transformation from a country of small towns and farms to one of industrial works and sprawling urban centers. The nation was also in the midst of rapid westward expansion and political conflict that reshaped its social identity and cultural outlook. Developments in transportation allowed artists to travel more widely, frequently beyond the nation's borders, to Europe and more distant corners of the globe, and return to their home country with sketchbooks full of inspiration and new ideas. The paintings on view, therefore, reveal a visual history of the United States during the nineteenth century, including its aspirations and growing nostalgia for a simpler and more harmonious past.