Take this Saturday, July 9, for example: If you bring your kids, you’re going to have a hard time deciding which of several overlapping programs to attend. There’s a Family Tour heading out from the Visitor Center at 11:30 a.m. that explores the house, its paintings and treasures from a child’s perspective. At the end, you get to borrow a backpack full of activities to do on the grounds, or visit the Wagon House Education Center for Art in the Barn. (This program repeats on July 23, which is designated Parents’ Day.) Tour reservations are required by 4 p.m. the preceding Friday; call (518) 828-0135 for information.
But wait a minute: If you’re doing the house tour at 11:30, are you going to miss the day’s special natural history program titled “The Great Nest,” which starts at 12 noon and runs until 4 p.m.? My guess is that there’ll be a way to do both. The program teaches kids ages 3 to 12 about different birds, where they build their nests and what items they use to do so. There will be storytelling, followed by a walk in the Olana landscape to try to find those nests, aided by binoculars. Then, back at the Wagon House, kids get to paint a miniature birdhouse to bring home. There is a fee of $5 per child for walk-ins, $3 if you preregister or are a member of the Olana Partnership. Call (518) 828-1872, extension 109, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register for this and other education programs.
If you want to make it a full day for the family, stick around until dusk on Saturday to see a screening of Charlotte’s Web on the East Lawn. Bring a blanket and a flashlight; some bug repellent might not be a bad idea either. The cost is $5 per person, and parking fees are waived in the evening.
No children in tow this Saturday? Looking for something a bit more genteel to do at Olana? A visit to this exotic setting is like stepping back in time to the days when the world’s first multinational trading concerns like the East India Company dominated the seven seas, building enormous fortunes primarily upon the buying and selling of tea. From 10 a.m. to 12 noon on July 9 in the Wagon House, you can hear Kim Bach, owner of Verdigris Tea, sharing her knowledge of teas native to the many regions to which Church traveled throughout his lifetime, including India, Jamaica, Mexico and the Middle East. Participants will have the opportunity to taste different teas and to make their own individual blend of loose teas to bring home. General admission to the Tea Talk is $10; Olana Partnership members get in for $5. Seating is limited and preregistration suggested.
And all that was just this Saturday! This Sunday, July 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon, kids aged 7 to 10 and their parents can get seriously hands-on in the first of two Bookmaking workshops being offered this summer, this one emphasizing the theme of “Olana Ecology.” Participants will be shown bookmaking steps that lead to a finished book, complete with pockets, fold-out compartments, pop-ups, drawings and stories that capture the natural world. The following Sunday, July 17, a companion workshop will be held with the theme of “Persian Motifs at Olana.” Olana Partnership members get in free; non-members pay $5 per child for one workshop, $8 per child for both. Space is limited, so please make your reservations by 4 p.m. the preceding Friday.
Now, imagine your offspring having an artistic day-camp experience of this quality for a full week. From Monday, July 11 to Friday, July 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., kids ages 7 to 14 can immerse themselves in “Panorama,” a weeklong adventure exploring art, history and Nature through the prism of Frederic Church. Authors and illustrators will enhance the experience of every participant through hands-on activities. The cost is $125 per child for Olana Partnership members, a still-reasonable $165 for non-members. Registration forms for the Panorama program are available at this link: http://olana.org/pdf/Panorama_Application_2011.pdf.
By Thursday, July 21, the long days surrounding the Summer Solstice will have begun to wane, allowing Olana to resume its Sunset Tour series at a reasonable hour, running from 5:30 to 7 p.m. from the East Lawn. The theme of this tour for adults, costing $50 general admission and $40 for Olana Partnership members, is “Decorative Elements.” Developed by Church over a 40-year period, Olana incorporates a vast array of influences and motifs from the Middle East, Far East, South America and Europe. Discover with the curators the myriad decorative elements that the artist incorporated into the furnishings, architecture and grounds. Reservations are required by 4 p.m. the preceding Tuesday.
As previously mentioned, Saturday, July 23 is Parents’ Day, with a Family Tour departing at 11:30 a.m. The afternoon education program in the Wagon House will spotlight “Composting: The Right Mix” for kids ages 6 to 14. The program includes a lesson in how to create your own indoor compost for town-dwellers, so be prepared to get hands-on with worms!
And on Saturday, July 30, from 12 noon to 4 p.m., kids ages 6 to 12 can get an art lesson called “Rhythm in Layers,” designing and assembling their own 3-D collage based on the stencils of Olana. The fee is $5 per child for walk-ins, $3 for preregistrants or members.
Note that there is a $5-per-vehicle entry fee from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and holiday Mondays through October 31, unless you’re a member or have one of those extremely handy Empire Passport stickers on your car. Olana State Historic Site is located on Route 9G, about a half-mile south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Hudson in Columbia County. For more details on summer programs at Olana, visit www.olana.org/calendar.php?countrytabs=6.