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Olana Collections Discovery Fund

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Help The Olana Partnership Return Historic Objects To Olana State Historic Site

While Olana’s 19th-century collection is astonishingly intact, some objects were given away before Olana became a New York State Historic Site. The Olana Partnership works to locate and fund the acquisition of important missing objects in Olana’s collection.

Now anyone can participate in this effort. A gift at any level to the Olana Collections Discovery Fund will make a difference.


photo: Andy Wainwright

Our goal: We need $20,000 to begin this initiative. The seed for this fund will allow us to bring home to Olana and public ownership key items from the Olana collection that have left us over the years.

Objects we seek: Among the potential acquisitions we hope to bring home to Olana are important paintings, rare books, historic photographs, and decorative art objects from the Church family’s residence at Olana, as well as documentary evidence of the preservation history of Olana State Historic Site. This fund will only be used to acquire missing items from the original Church family collection.


Ali Muhammad Isfahani, pictorial tile (detail), c. 1880s. Ceramic in wooden frame, 15.25” x 11.5”

Why these objects matter: Olana’s collections are unique, global, and remarkably intact, yet our work at Olana would be even stronger with some additional missing objects returned. For example, we are only just learning about the vibrant artistic voice of Frederic and Isabel Church’s daughter, Downie. Only through acquiring examples of her botanical sketches can we bring her out of the shadow of her famous artist father. The acquisition of major architectural texts like The Ruins of Palmyra, shown below, provides new insight into the sources of the design of Olana’s main house. These new acquisitions will enrich our interpretation and add to the stories we share with visitors. The possibilities are endless!


Felix Moscheles, Portrait of Isabel Charlotte “Downie” Church (detail), c. 1884. Oil on canvas in a plaster frame, 32” x 27”

Why we need your support: Olana is a living collection, and new stories can be further developed if key objects were returned. Researchers, in particular, would benefit from this. While mainstream museums commonly have acquisition endowments to grow their collections by purchasing works overtime, things are handled differently at Olana. The Olana Partnership has mainly relied on private gifts of art and archival documents further to enrich the historic collection at Olana State Historic Site. The public has never been able to participate in this effort — until now. You can be a part of this continuing work, no matter how big or small the gift.


(cover photo by Peter Aaron/OTTO)

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The Olana Partnership
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