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Explore the past, present, and future.

Tours of the Richardson Olmsted Campus, provided in partnership with the Lipsey Architecture Center Buffalo, are a passageway to the past and a glimpse of the future.

Led by expert docents, you’ll gain access to spaces that have gone untouched since the 1970s, experiencing the site’s original structures as well as the healing landscape designed to serve as a therapeutic environment. Plus, you’ll learn about the philosophies of mental health advocate Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride and how his ideas influenced architect Henry Hobson Richardson and landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux who applied those principles throughout the grounds.

Tours are available from June through September. Each unique experience runs between 45 minutes and two hours in length and all explore the past, present, and future of the Richardson Olmsted Campus.

On the day of your tour, please meet at the Lipsey Architecture Center gallery on the ground level of the towers building.

The buildings on the Richardson Olmsted Campus are under renovation – access may be limited to some areas owing to work in progress.

Ticket sales support the non-profit Lipsey Architecture Center Buffalo’s mission to celebrate WNY’s architectural bounty.

2024 Interior tours and accessibility.

Our public tours, in partnership with the Lipsey Architecture Center Buffalo and Preservation Buffalo Niagara can accommodate up to 20 guests.

All guests should be aware that tours of yet-to-be-redeveloped buildings have stairs and floors that are very uneven. Much of the campus is an active construction site.  Wear closed-toe shoes – they are required. We provide hard hats.  Tours will vary each week depending on construction activities.

Tickets will be released monthly on a first come, first served basis.

 

Tour dates for 2024 remain TBD. 

 

On the day of your tour, please meet at the Lipsey Architecture Center gallery on the ground level of the towers building.

2024 Outdoor Richardson Olmsted grounds walking tour.

Walk our campus with horticulturist Nell Gardner and explore the rich agricultural history and therapeutic nature of the grounds of the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane.

Supplemented with photos and landscape reports, learn about the working farm and greenhouse that once existed on site. Tours of our historic grounds will be taking place once a month throughout the summer.  Dates remain TBD.

Please note these are exterior grounds tours that last about 1.5 hours.  Please dress appropriately.  On the day of your tour, please meet at the Lipsey Architecture Center gallery on the ground level of the towers building.

2024 Photography tour.

Join us for an exclusive opportunity to capture the interior spaces of the iconic Richardson Olmsted Campus, a National Historic Landmark. The 150-year-old former state hospital consists of purpose-built structures and a healing landscape that created a therapeutic environment then considered the most progressive treatment available for mental illness.

Photographers will be paired with an experienced docent to guide them through a collection of spaces in various states of renovation and disrepair. Your guide can also provide context on the history and future of the Richardson Olmsted Campus as you explore the site.

Photography Tours are $110 (includes access for a the photographer and one assistant).

Ages 16 & up.

Sorry – tours are over for the 2023 season.

2024 dates TBD.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

  • All attendees are required to sign a release in acknowledgement of the safety concerns. Please bring your pre-signed release(s) to allow more time for the tour.
  • Hard hats will be provided. It is imperative that you stay with your docent in the designated areas – there are very unsafe areas within the Campus.
  • This tour requires the ability to walk for the full duration of the tour as well as climb multiple flights of stairs.
  • Meet at the Lipsey Architecture Center, ground level of the Towers Building on the northside of the campus.

WHAT TO BRING

  • For your safety, sturdy, closed-toe shoes are required. We reserve the right to turn away anyone without appropriate shoes. Under no condition will sandals or high heels be allowed.
  • You are strongly encouraged to wear layers and bring bottled water as the temperatures inside the buildings can vary widely.
  • Prepare to get a little dusty during your time on-site. If you’re concerned about having an adverse reaction to the dust because of asthma or allergies, we recommend bringing a face mask or scarf.

Self-guided audio tour.

When tours aren’t in session on campus, take yourself on a self-guided adventure around the grounds with a free audio tour. To get started:

  • Download the audio tour map.
  • Dial 1-716-249-3874 to begin the tour.
  • Soak up the history and enjoy your tour!

Audio tour generously supported by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. Content co-created by Deirdre Reynolds, Museum Studies Department, SUNY Buffalo State with the Richardson Center Campus.

Voiced by Mike Forster, Master Docent, Richardson Olmsted Campus.