The Yosemite Museum opened to the public in 1926, and was built to be a model for museums in national parks.Its current collection is one of the largest and most diverse in the National Park System, as its holdings include all manner of natural and cultural materials related to Yosemite and its environs. Collections are displayed throughout the year in the Indian Cultural Museum and Museum Gallery, which hosts changing exhibits.
The collection includes archeological materials collected inside the park, as well as a large collection of ethnographic material from the Yosemite region.The ethnographic collection is particularly important because so many of the maker's or former owner's names are known.The Indian Cultural Exhibit features this portion of the collection.
Additional historic materials are preserved by the park including fine art, artifacts related to early residents and businesses, photographic material, publications, memorabilia and souvenirs.Several early wagons and historic vehicles in the collection are kept in Wawona.
Zoological specimens, some collected by the Yosemite Field School and others collected under permit agreements, form part of the museum's holdings, as does a small collection of geological material.The park maintains a large herbarium as well.
Use of the museum collection is by appointment only.To make an appointment, please contact the museum staff.
Yosemite Research Library
The Yosemite Research Library, maintained by the museum, is a research resource with some 10,000 books relevant to Yosemite, as well as photographs and articles. The library is open to the public Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 am to noon and 1 pm to 5 pm; contact the park's librarian for details.
The Yosemite Archives, located in El Portal, contains National Park Service records, personal papers, manuscript collections, and oral histories. Searchable finding aids are now available online. Several collections, including the Joseph Dixon collection [760 kb PDF], have been partially digitized and can be perused onsite using a computer database.
Research is by appointment; research hours are Mondays & Tuesdays 8 am-4:30 pm. To make an appointment, please call 209/379-1283. Due to a storage upgrade project, the Yosemite El Portal Archives facility housing park records and some history will be closed for research from October 15, 2013 to October 15, 2014. For research requests or concerns, call 209/379-1282 or email us.
Did You Know?
In Yosemite Valley, dropping over 594-foot Nevada Fall and then 317-foot Vernal Fall, the Merced River creates what is known as the “Giant Staircase.” Such exemplary stair-step river morphology is characterized by a large variability in river movement and flow, from quiet pools to the dramatic drops of the waterfalls themselves.