The Olana Partnership Launches 2017 Programming

by Melanie Hasbrook

By Amy Hufnagel, Director of Education

The complex challenges facing cultural organizations today require an ability (and willingness) to be contemporary in intention and action (even when historic) and mindful of every opportunity to delight visitors. I aspire to SuperMuseum qualities (as defined by Aimee Chang, Director of Engagement at the UC Berkeley Art Museum). SuperMuseums are driven by why they do what they do and for whom they work as their priority; these successful organizations then plan backwards from why to what they do.

The Olana 2017 Public Program Calendar is one result of why The Olana Partnership staff comes to work every day and is also the what of their labors; ultimately we want visitors to share with us our collective commitment to art, history and learning as these are fascinations that inherently matter to the cultural fabric of our nation. The Olana Partnership commits to the programs and exhibitions each season because learning, making art, exploring history and culture, and discovering the natural world is at the root of our shared identities as residents and visitors to the Hudson Valley Region and are far from being frivolous. Visiting Olana is an experience that gives meaning and value to our region and to our daily lives.

Church poured heart, soul and creativity into Olana in the 19th century and his actions inform why we continue to pour those same things into the historic site today. This season visitors can attend many creativity and heart-nurturing tour programs delivered by artists and scholars including the Artist on Art Tours or Tom Lee’s storytelling and question tours. We have several lectures and workshops that explore unique and specific topics that end or begin with looking at aspects of the collection inside the main house at Olana, like the history of scientific travel, the history of religion and environmentalism in the region, and the art of Persian ceramic tiles. We have artist-inspired landscape tours developed in collaboration with The Cultural Landscape Foundation, horse-drawn carriage rides during fall foliage, and naturalist-inspired hikes that teach about geology, fireflies or turkeys. In September, we will launch a weekend-long “Performing Olana” program where visitors will be immersed in the landscape while a play unfolds with actors bringing life at the Church’s farm alive.

We have also designed several “edutainment-style” programs in 2017. Gracie’s food truck will participate in the Food Truck Picnic Day (we like to think of it as a pop-up restaurant with the best viewshed in town!), and Tasty History pairs historians with a chef to taste Olana’s past.  During the Thanksgiving and December holiday seasons, we have stellar marionette performances for all ages, as well as workshops that teach wreath-making, wrapping papers (from marbleizing to veggie printing), and beeswax candles. We have designed our public programs so that there are many topics and styles of activity. The public is invited to all our educational programming, and all ages are served through the specific age appropriate events. Ultimately we are most happy when 5 year-olds are here with 80 year-olds and both are having a fun-filled learning experience.

If the cultural education field is saying that best practice SuperMuseums think and act differently about typical museum-like functions, then we hope you will see the launch of Olana’s 2017 high season as testament to our institution responding to these challenges to better serve our audiences. We are committed to why we do what we do, working in more cross-departmental ways, and being contemporary in intention. We hear our constituents loud and clear and have designed a season set on wowing you. Please join us!  There are dozens of reasons to fall in love with Olana again and again, and perhaps this year you will renew or make a new commitment to the creative heart and soul of our work together!