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Open House New York at the Cultural Services

On Saturday, October 13, visit the Cultural Services of the French Embassy for a guided tour on the occasion of Open House New York (OHNY)

Tours will take visitors through the first three floors of the French Embassy's Stanford White-designed Payne Whitney Mansion, a rare example of Gilded Age architecture in New York. Visitors will see hidden corners of the building and have an opportunity to step inside the newly-renovated Venetian Room, one of White's last creations. 

Highlights include a replica of the Young Archer, attributed to Michelangelo in 1997; the Venetian Room, which features an exquisite handcrafted porcelain flowers and European antique furniture; Albertine Books, the French bookstore located within the Cultural Services, with interiors conceived by acclaimed French designer Jacques Garcia that includes a hand-painted mural on its second floor; the gilded, mirrored doors of the Marble Reception Room and adjacent Ballroom; and Autumn (1902), an original stained glass window by John La Farge, American painter, muralist, and stained glass window-maker. 

Tours will be led by Steven Niedbala, M.A. and M.Phil. in Art History and Archaeology and current Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University. 

LOCATION972 Fifth Avenue (at 79th Street), New York, NY 10075

TIME: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 3pm and 4pm. Tours are 30-45 minutes long.

RESERVE: Sign up on the OHNY website starting 9/25. A $5 registration fee will be charged.


About the Payne Whitney Mansion 
One of the few remaining buildings of the Gilded Age, the Payne Whitney Mansion was commissioned in 1902 by Oliver Hazard Payne, for his nephew, Payne Whitney, on the occasion of his marriage to Helen Hay. Stanford White, of the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, designed the mansion in the style of a high Italian Renaissance palazzo. He was assassinated by a jealous husband before construction was completed in 1909. Since 1952, France has owned the mansion. In 1970, it was deemed an official landmark of the City of New York. With a grand entrance hall and stairway and ornate marble reception halls, the mansion transports visitors to another epoch.

Today, it is home to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Albertine bookstore. Albertine features a stunning interior design by one of France's most celebrated modern architects, Jacques Garcia. It holds over 14,000 titles from 30 French-speaking countries. The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promote the best of French arts, literature, cinema, language, and higher education across the US.

In 2018, the Venetian Room, a reception room off the main lobby and one of architect Stanford White's last creations, was renovated. After four months of renovation, the room is once again open to the public.

About Open House New York
Open House New York provides broad audiences with unparalleled access to the extraordinary architecture of New York and to the people who help design, build, and preserve the city. Through its year-round programs and the annual OHNY Weekend, Open House New York celebrates the best examples of historic and contemporary design and planning throughout the five boroughs and helps foster a more informed conversation about how architecture and urban design sustain New York as a vibrant place to live, work, and learn. Open House New York is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. For more information, visit ohny.org.