Public Programs

The Albany Institute presents a broad range of public programs related to our collections, exhibitions, and special projects.

Home for the Holidays Family Program 2015

Friday, November 27 • 10:00am - 4:30pm Saturday, November 28 • 10:00am - 4:30pm Sunday, November 29 • 12:00pm - 4:30pm

Come to the Albany Institute this Thanksgiving weekend for a variety of holiday themed programs and events. We'll be decked out in winter wonder and ready to welcome you and your out-of-town guests!

Join us in the art studio and express your creative side while making beautiful holiday cards!

  • Visit with a live reindeer (Friday and Saturday) Sponsored by Capital Wines and Liquor
  • Take your photograph with Santa: Friday 12-4:00, Saturday 12-4:00
  • Make handmade cards in the Art Studio
  • Shop for fun, old-fashioned toys, handmade ornaments, crafts and gifts made by area artisans in our Museum Holiday Shop
  • Discover decorated trees and mantlepieces
  • Savor exquisite treats from Crisan Bakery
  • Admire a special exhibition of Pamela Dalton's Scherenschnitte paper-cut designs
  • Hear great holiday lectures and presentations
  • Explore our current exhibitions, including The Capital Region in 50 Objects and Masterworks: 225 Years of Collecting
  • See America's first commercially produced Christmas card, on view in The Capital Region in 50 Objects exhibit!

Special activity schedule (please check often for updates):


  • Make Your Own Holiday Cards (Drop-in Art Making Session): 10AM-4:30PM
  • Live Reindeer on lawn near Washington Avenue: 12PM-4PM
  • Photographs with Saint Nicholas: Noon-4:00PM
  • Gallery Talk: 1PM


  • Make Your Own Holiday Cards (Drop-in Art Making Session): 10AM-4:30PM
  • Live Reindeer on lawn near Washington Avenue: 11:30AM-3:30PM
  • Photographs with Saint Nicholas: Noon-4:00PM
  • Gallery Talk: 1PM
  • Book signing & demonstation with guest exhibitor Pamela Dalton: 2PM


  • Make Your Own Holiday Cards (Drop-in Art Making Session): Noon-4:30PM
  • Gallery Talk: 1PM
  • Lecture The World of Richard H. Pease of Albany and the Story of America's First Chrismas Card: 2PM


LECTURE The World of Richard H. Pease of Albany and the Story of America's First Christmas Card

Sunday, November 29 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Tom Nelson, Exhibitions Designer, Albany Institute of History & Art

Start the holidays off with an illustrated exposé of seasonal tidbits. Nelson will discuss Richard Pease’s mid-nineteenth century retail empire in Albany and its impact on the way we experience the holiday season today. Pease was the first to use Santa Claus in an advertisement in 1842, and the first in America to print and distribute Christmas cards (c.1850). Nelson will also trace the origins of some of our more popular holiday icons and traditions, and relate how some matured or were even created in New York's Hudson Valley and Capital Region.

Nelson has been with the Albany Institute for 33 years and has curated several exhibitions and published articles on 19th century and contemporary art for a variety of institutions. He has been researching the Pease family for the past three years and has written a monograph about the family’s various business enterprises.

Free admission

Ancient Egypt in the Middle Kingdom

Friday, December 4 • 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Peter Lacovara, Director, Ancient Egyptian Heritage and Archaeology Fund

Dr. Lacovara will discuss this transformational 400 year-long era in ancient Egyptian history during which many artistic, cultural, religious, and political traditions were first conceived and others that were instituted during the Old Kingdom were revived and re-imagined.

Free admission

IMAGE: Relief of a granary, Limestone, Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11, Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of Heinrich Medicus, 2013.1.22

50 OBJECTS PROGRAM The Cupboard at the Center of the World: American Kasten and their Style and Use in Colonial Dutch New York

Sunday, December 6 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm

Peter Kenny, author, Co-President, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, and recently retired Curator and Administrator of the American Wing, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The kast is a large, freestanding textile storage cupboard. Massive in scale, these kasten held on stubbornly in the Hudson River Valley until the early 19th-century. American kasten projected the same values as their counterparts in the Netherlands, and were at the very center of the New York Dutch household.

Free with museum admission

This program relates to our exhibition, The Capital Region in 50 Objects.

READING & BOOK SIGNING Steampunk Holiday: Readings from License to Quill

Thursday, December 17 • 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Giacomo Calabria, author, historian, educator.

Join in the fun at the museum shop’s holiday-themed book signing with Albany writer Giacomo Calabria (pen-name Jacopo della Quercia). Mr. Calabria will be reading from his recently published book,  License to Quill, and from his previous book,  The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy.   Mr. Calabria has been described as "a masterful and confident storyteller" by Times Union and promises that his new book, License to Quill, a James Bond-esque spy-thriller starring William Shakespeare, will be the perfect winter's tale to enjoy this holiday season.

Calabria is an educator and history writer whose work has been featured on the comedy website, BBC America, CNN Money, the Huffington Post, and WAMC's "The Roundtable."

Free admission

Art for All 2015-2016

Bring your family to the museum and spend the day being creative!  Adults and children of all ages are welcome to join us in the Albany Institute art studio on Saturdays for drop in art making.  Activities are based off of our current exhibitions and include techniques involving painting, drawing, multi media work, collage and more!

FREE with museum admission

December Art for All: Holiday Ornaments

December's Art for All project is perfect for the holiday season.  We'll collage beautiful designs onto round wooden ornaments.  An assortment of found images will be provided, including pictures from our current exhibitions!

December Art for All Dates: Saturday Dec. 5th, Saturday Dec. 12th, & Saturday Dec. 19th

*Please note, there is no Art for All on the date of December 26th.