Will Coleman Shares Virtual Tour of Olana State Historic Site

Jul 13, 2021

For our July Virtual Tour, the Decorative Arts Trust visited Olana State Historic Site, the extraordinary residence of Frederic Church, one of the premier landscape painters of the 19th century. William L. Coleman, PhD, Director of Collections & Exhibitions at The Olana Partnership, led participants through the house and shared a superlative collection of fine and decorative arts. 

Olana embodies the power of place. Frederic Church carefully designed the idyllic 250 acres that serve as the backdrop of the Hudson River School painter’s eclectic home. Will opened the tour by describing the house itself as a “riot of color and form.” The house borrows architectural styles from cultures across the globe to create a home that is wholly unique. 

Incredible paintings by Frederic Church and other artists, like his neighbor, Thomas Cole, are found inside. Church’s 1874 El Khasné, Petra, a depiction of the Al-Khazneh temple in the historical city of Petra, Jordan, gives visitors insight into how international travel infused Church’s work. A gift to his wife, Isabelle, the picture speaks to Church’s deep engagement with and affection for the places he visited. 

This international taste is mirrored in Church’s decorative arts collection. A pair of painted chairs from India were sold to the Churches from famed New York decorator and designer Lockwood de Forest, who acted as a pipeline from skilled Indian makers in places like Kashmir to American buyers seeking to order custom pieces from around the world. 

The Churches’ collection holds innumerable treasures, including pianos, Society of the Cincinnati porcelain, eggs, butterflies, historic costume, a Chinese carved rosewood bed, and much more. Hear more about these incredible objects by watching the virtual tour below: 

The Decorative Arts Trust hosts monthly virtual tours that give viewers the opportunity to go behind the scenes and experience incredible collections and sites. Curators, collectors, and lovers of decorative arts share fascinating objects and interiors through our tours hosted on YouTube Live. 

If you like this video, we welcome you to subscribe to our YouTube channel at

The Trust’s calendar of events shows upcoming virtual and in-person programs. For updates about registration openings, sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. The Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that appreciates the support of members and donors who make programming like this possible.

About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin

Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.


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