Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect

Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) will present Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect November 18, 2016 through February 12, 2017. This is the first exhibition to focus on the little-known fact that the renowned leader of the Hudson River School of American landscape painting realized three buildings and had plans for others before his untimely death. The exhibition also commemorates the recreation of Thomas Cole’s studio and includes paintings that reveal Cole’s architectural proclivity, drawings that document his recurrent focus on architectural structures, and elevations and floor plans for his built and visionary projects.

The Hudson River School of art, which Thomas Cole founded, dominated American visual arts between 1825 and about 1870 and helped to stimulate interest in environmental preservation, ultimately laying the groundwork for the establishment of the national park system. Hudson River School landscape art continues to influence contemporary artists. However, few people realize that Cole designed buildings. One of Cole’s notable architectural achievements is his design for the Ohio State Capitol and the exhibition will include drawings made by Cole of the Ohio State Capitol. It will also include Cole’s landscape paintings, some showing ancient ruins inspired by his European travels, others with 19th-century grand houses. Central to the show is Cole’s visionary painting The Architect’s Dream (1840), on loan from the Toledo Museum of Art and Cole’s The Cascatelli, Tivoli, Looking Towards Rome (circa 1832) from the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum of Art.

The exhibition is curated by Annette Blaugrund, an independent scholar, author, and curator who was director of the National Academy Museum, New York for 11 years. She has worked at the Brooklyn Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the New York Historical Society. She has taught at Columbia University, where she earned her PhD in art history. She has written numerous books on American art, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy in 2008, and was named Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1992. CMA Curator-At-Large Carole Genshaft has organized the Columbus presentation.

Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect was organized by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in association with the Columbus Museum of Art. 

Accompanying the exhibition is a new hardcover catalogue of the same title published by The Monacelli Press. The 120-page publication contains 63 full-color images; directors’ forewords by Nannette V. Maciejunes and Elizabeth Jack; an essay by Dr. Blaugrund about Cole’s architectural endeavors as seen in his paintings, drawings, and realized projects; a contextual essay on the legacy of Thomas Cole by Franklin Kelly, deputy director and chief curator at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; and a preface by Barbara Novak, professor emerita, Barnard College and Columbia University. Support for this publication was provided in part by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. The catalogue is available in the CMA Museum Store.

Related Programs
CMA partnered with businesses and cultural and arts organizations, including the Ohio History Connection, Ohio Statehouse, and The Nature Conservancy, to enhance visitor programs offered during Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect.

Ohio History Connection Logo The Nature Conservancy LogoOhio Statehouse Logo

Group Tours
Double your knowledge, double your fun. Take a tour of Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect and the Ohio Statehouse, the building Thomas Cole helped design, for a double dose of history, architecture, critical thinking, and imagination. Please call both CMA and the Ohio Statehouse to schedule your tour.

CMA offers guided group tours of Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect for groups of ten adults or more. We also provide tours for people with disabilities. Tours are 50 minutes in length. The cost is $5 per person plus the price of admission. Tours available Tuesday – Sunday starting at 10:00 am, arrangements must be made six weeks in advance. Please call 614.629.0342 to book your tour or for more information.

The Ohio Statehouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered one of the greatest examples of Greek Revival Architecture in the country. Celebrated artist Thomas Cole was one of the finalists for the capitol competition of 1838, and his entry significantly influenced the design of the current Statehouse building. The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) is responsible for preserving the historic character of the Ohio Statehouse and Capitol Square, facilitating the operation of state government and protecting those who work in and visit the capitol complex. Additionally, CSRAB interprets the role of Ohio’s Statehouse in national and Ohio history, celebrates its art and architecture and highlights its ongoing impact on the daily lives of Ohioans and, thereby, inspires all citizens to participate in state government.

Free guided tours of the Ohio Statehouse are offered weekdays on the hour 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, and weekends noon – 3:00 pm. Groups of 10 or more are requested to call in advance to ensure a guide is available. Contact 614.728.3726 for more information or to schedule a group tour. If you would like to explore the Statehouse on your own, it is open weekdays 8:00 am – 6:00 pm; weekends 11:00 am – 5:00 pm; closed holidays. For more information about the Ohio Statehouse visit

Wednesdays@2: Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect Overview
Wednesday, November 30, 2:00 pm
CMA Curator-At-Large Carole Genshaft and CMA Chief Curator David Stark discuss the exhibition. Cost of the program is $20 for nonmembers (includes general admission) and $5 for members. To register, please call 614.629.0359.

Wednesdays@2: Greek Revival Architecture in Columbus and the Design of the Ohio Statehouse
Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 2:00 pm
Join CMA for a conversation with Columbus Architects Robert Loversidge, from Schooley Caldwell Architects, and Bill Heyer, of William Heyer Architect. Cost of the program is $20 for nonmembers (includes general admission) and $5 for members. To register, please call 614.629.0359.

Wednesdays@2: Ohio Statehouse Renovation and Revelations
Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 2:00 pm
Columbus Architect Robert Loversidge from Schooley Caldwell Architects discusses the renovation of the Ohio Statehouse.

Wednesdays@2: Art and the Creation of the National Park Service
Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 2:00 pm
Terry Seidel is the director of land protection in Ohio for The Nature Conservancy; a leading international nonprofit conservation organization whose mission is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Seidel has led the protection of over 10,000 acres of high quality natural areas throughout the state of Ohio. He is a lifelong advocate of the National Park Service and has visited nearly every national park in the continental U.S. and Hawaii. Seidel will explore how art and the Hudson River School helped stimulate interest in environmental preservation and how it laid the groundwork for the establishment of the National Park Service.

About Columbus Museum of Art
Columbus Museum of Art creates great experiences with great art for everyone. The Greater Columbus Arts Council, Nationwide Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, and the Henry D. and Carol B. Clark, Hermann Vorys, Fred Sands Family, Sayre Charitable, and James W. Overstreet funds of The Columbus Foundation provide ongoing support. CMA, Schokko Art Café, and the Museum Store are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and until 9:00 pm every Thursday. Museum admission is $14 for adults; $8 for seniors and students 6 and older; and free for members, children 5 and younger. Special exhibition fees may also apply. Admission is free for all on Sundays. PNC Free Sundays presented by PNC Arts Alive is made possible through a grant from the PNC Foundation. For additional information, call 614.221.6801 or visit

About the Thomas Cole National Historic Site
The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is the place where American art began, as it is the home of Thomas Cole (1801-1848), the founder of the Hudson River School – the first major art movement of the United States. Cole’s landscape paintings encompassed a new-found awe for the majesty of the American landscape, and they sparked the longest running art movement in American history, including more than 100 artists in the period between 1825 and about 1870. Today, the National Historic Site welcomes thousands of visitors each year. Cole’s original easels and art-making tools are on view in his “Old Studio” and visitors can tour his 19th-century home and grounds, and watch a film about Cole and the Hudson River School in the visitor center. Guests especially enjoy the panoramic view from the west porch to the Catskill Mountains, which remains strikingly similar to Cole’s paintings of the same view. The site is located at 218 Spring Street in Catskill, New York. Current programs and events can be found at

Image displayed: Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840, Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott.

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Media Contact
Melissa Ferguson, 614.629.0306,