Live in the Landscape & Summer Edu-tainment at OLANA

by Melanie Hasbrook

Amy Hufnagel, Director of Education

The contemporary British painter David Hockney says, “people tend to forget that play is serious.” To this notion I add journalist Sydney Harris’s writing “the purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” Then I feel compelled to layer a contraction of the two: Olana’s staff works daily to create “serious and playful windows” for the region’s education.

“What would Frederic Church do?” The hypothesized answers to this question often lead to programmatic decisions.  This year we wanted to link summer music and film nights to curatorial themes of Church’s travels and scientist Alexander von Humboldt, while designing very populist events that would appeal to a wide general public audience.  So we distilled the themes in the gallery to ideas of travel for enlightenment, time travel and sci-fi, artistic & adventure travel, and as a counter point home. We imagine that these are topics that Fred (and Fred’s children) would have enjoyed if they were here with us today.

Live in the Landscape in June took up time travel, sci-fi, travel for adventure and enlightenment and health, as well as notions of home. Over 120 people attended last Friday’s event, and the music by Illusha Tsinadze & Company was as stellar as the evening’s perfect summer weather. The next two events in the series are scheduled for the last Fridays of July and August, and at these events The Olana Partnership gives the community a free, all ages, series of serious and playful windows that immerse visitors in the Olana landscape and skyscape, all while enjoying live music and films.  You can come for any part of the evening from music, to stars and planets, to a film or two (at 8:30 or 10:30pm). What would Frederic Church do? He would organize all his gear and spend the whole summer evening outside under the celestial heavens.

In celebration of Olana’s 50th Anniversary as a NY State Park, we also have carriage rides available between 4pm and sunset on the last Friday (through October). Interested parties can reserve places for $25 a person, or couples can reserve the entire carriage for 2 people for $75. Space for this aspect of our summer evenings is very limited so advance registration is encouraged.

On Live in the Landscape evenings, the east lawn becomes a summer family friendly playground enabling the only nights of the summer when the general public can, for free, enjoy the site ‘til midnight. As anyone who has attended will attest, summer nights are magical on Olana’s hilltop and there are so few evenings when we can be here after dark; Live in the Landscape is an event where nature and twilight are married to live music, star-gazing, and outdoor films making serious summer play!  In June we had visitors attend whose age ranged from 3 to 80 and everyone had a lovely evening. So gather your friends and family and plan for this edutainment evening. We think this is one of those moments where no one will realize there is education embedded in all the serious play that will be going on!

Program outline:

Friday, July 29; 6pm/Free/All Ages (Saturday rain date)

6pm – Trio of wind instrument students from Bard College Conservatory playing classical music selected from the Church family music collection.
8:15pm – Home (G)
10:30pm – Art House (not rated)
Star-gaze with Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association

Friday, August 26; 6pm/Free/All Ages (Saturday rain date)

6pm – Music by 77th Regimental Balladeers- (Civil War costumed musicians and a visit from orator/impersonator Mark Twain who visited Olana)
8:15pm – Night at the Museum (PG)
10:30pm – 180 Degrees South (not rated)
Star-gaze with Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association

Turn of the century novelist Dorothy West writes, “there is no life that does not contribute to history” and we certainly agree with that sentiment as Olana highlights its 2016 anniversary. Join us as we celebrate the last 50 years by envisioning the next 50 years. We think attendance at these Live in the Landscape events this year will help us be sure that serious play and free public engagement is central to the history we build for the next generation. See you there!

Program Details: FREE and appropriate for all ages with parental supervision. No registration required. Carriage rides require advance registration and a fee. Site opens at 5:30pm; music begins around 6pm. Program continues until midnight.

Packing list: We suggest good walking shoes, a cooler, sweatshirts, chairs and blankets.

Weather concerns:  This program will be delayed to Saturday of the same weekend for rain only. Please check the website ( for weather alerts. We will move the program to its rain date at noon the day of the program. If we call the rain date, everything occurs on the same schedule, just a day delay.  More information: or by calling 518-828-1872 x105