Wild Land: Thomas Cole and the Birth of the American Landscape Painting

The Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History, in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), proudly premiers Wild Land: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Landscape Painting, from September 1, 2011 – October 20, 2011. This beautiful exhibition takes visitors "into the woods" and through Cole’s studio, revealing the ways in which he and other artists of his time pioneered cultural conversations that shaped our national landscape intellectually, physically, and visually.


About the Exhibit

Between the years of 1825-1850, artist Thomas Cole revolutionized the field of American landscape painting. He gave rise to a style of painting that later became known as the Hudson River School. In the process, the young self-taught artist helped Americans rethink their relationship with the natural world around them. He revealed connections between that landscape and America’s national identity.

Using a combination of large-scale banner graphics, immersive environments, media features, and other interactive strategies, Wild Land takes audiences on a journey with Cole through the story of his creative process. Visitors will examine how the meaning of nature has changed over time into a source for creative and intellectual inspiration. And just as Thomas Cole did, visitors will explore the concept of preservation and how societies come to value and live in balance with natural resources.

In concluding the exhibit, visitors are left to contemplate whether Cole’s premature death may have signified a beginning of an American artistic legacy and an identity as a nation inextricably tied to nature.

Grand Opening

On Thursday, September 1, 2011, the Museum invites the general public to its grand opening event at 6pm. The opening features a talk by Dr. Jim Gramann, Kindred Spirits: Landscape Painting and America’s National Parks. Dr. Gramann is a professor in the Parks and Recreational Tourism Sciences
Department, Texas A&M University and an expert on the history of national parks and the influence of Thomas Cole. His presentation will be followed by a free reception and gallery viewing.

Wild Land: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Landscape Painting was made possible in part through Hotel Tax Revenue funded from the City of College Station through the Arts Council of Brazos Valley, through underwriting provided by the William Knox Holt Foundation and by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has been adapted and is being toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance. The exhibit was organized by The Thomas Cole National Historic Site/Cedar Grove, Catskill, New York.