About the Artist-in-Residence Program

a man talking to people at a table outside of a large building
All Artists-in-Residence at Denali conduct a visitor-outreach event as part of their residency.

NPS Photo

Program Overview

Since 2002, dozens of accomplished artists, writers, and composers have participated in the Artist-in-Residence program at Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Following a 10 day residency, each artist will lead a public outreach activity. Artists may choose to donate finished work to the park.

Due to lack of adequate storage space and display locations for more (or large) pieces of art, the park prefers digital and performance based donations. Artists are challenged to create artwork and / or activities for visitors that offer a fresh and innovative perspective drawn from their own experience.

Guiding Principles

The program seeks qualified and accomplished artists, writers, and composers with demonstrated achievement in creating pieces that are both high in artistic merit and accessible for general audiences. Alaska Natives and American Indians are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please feel welcome to mention your tribal or ANCSA corporation affiliation in essay responses.The music composition residency draws upon successful foundations in Composing in the Wilderness and Denali Music Festival programs which emphasize contemporary classical music. This composer residency is timed so the composer may participate in these programs. The composer will have one year to create their final product, with the intention that the completed piece will be premiered the Denali Music Festival the subsequent year. The selected composer will consult with park staff to ensure that the instrumentation and technical requirements are appropriate for that setting.

Within this general framework, there are no stylistic requirements. Song-writers, music artists and composers working within other music genres are also encouraged to apply for residency at Denali National Park.

The Residency Experience and Expectations

All residents must provide their own transportation to and from the park, as well as any supplies, provisions, clothing, and outdoor gear for the duration of their stay. No stipend is provided. Each artist may bring one adult guest for all or part of their residency, provided that they arrive together.

Residents must have a valid driver's license and must watch (and be comfortable abiding by) the Denali "Rules of the Road." Residents should also familiarize themselves with how to stay safe in Denali. Artists under the age of 18 will be required to have parent/ guardian chaperone during their residency.

Summer Residency

Summer residencies are scheduled between June and September and are not concurrent. (The music composition residency may have preferential scheduling to coincide with the Denali Music Festival in mid-July each year.) Residencies are based at ranger patrol cabins located in remote settings, but within proximity to the Denali Park Road. Typically, offerings include a 14' x 16' cabin with an outhouse, propane heater, range, oven, and refrigerator, bunks with double beds, bedding, a full complement of cooking equipment, and a small resource library. There is no electricity or running water, but water jugs are replenished regularly by park maintenance staff. Showers, laundry, telephone, and limited access are available at the Toklat Road Camp near Mile 53.

A road pass for private vehicle access is limited to one roundtrip use for driving out to a cabin site, and returning again to the park entrance. Day-to-day transportation within the park is available through passes provided for Visitor Transportation System (VTS) shuttle buses. Residents who articulate in advance specific creative goals or project objectives may be able to receive additional private vehicle access on a case-by-case basis.

Summer residencies typically begin on a Tuesday morning with arrival, orientation, and safety briefings at Park Headquarters followed by independent travel to the cabin site by afternoon. After a stay of nine nights in the park, on the Thursday morning of the following week, residents return to the park entrance to lead outreach activities at the Denali Visitor Center and to stay one final night in transient housing at Park Headquarters. Checkout and final departure from headquarters occur on Friday morning.

Typically, summer outreach activities take place at 3 pm on Thursday afternoons using picnic tables in public spaces outside the Denali Visitor Center. Events can last 45 to 90 minutes. The number of participants is usually limited by advance registration, from 12 to 24 participants, as set by resident preference. Residents are each allowed to spend as much as $150 for activity materials and supplies. Please provide receipts for purchases to be reimbursed and ship items to the park, preferably by USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail, well in advance of the residency.

Second residencies

The program currently receives many as 300 applications a year for as few as six residencies. While previous residents aren't prohibited from applying again, prospects for being selected for another opportunity are exceptionally slim. Applicants must demonstrate significant development in their work over a span of years. Rather than an extension or reprise of previous achievements, the opportunity for a second residency must provide an entirely fresh perspective of the park for visitors.

Donations of artwork to the program collection

Although digital and performance based donations are preferred, physical pieces may be donated if approved in advance and meet the following guidelines:

  1. Two-dimensional donations should not exceed 48 inches in any dimension and be suitably framed for hanging on wall-track systems in park galleries.
  2. Three-dimensional donations that require the purchase of custom display cases may not exceed 24 inches in any dimension. No piece should require permanent installation or structural modification of park facilities.

Please submit your donation by December 31 of the calendar year in which the residency takes place.

Composers are asked to donate both a PDF (including score, parts, and program notes) as well as a digital recording of the work, either as a high quality MIDI realization, or as performed by an ensemble.

While program participants retain copyright of donated artwork, they are asked to grant permission without restriction for the program to use and publish artwork (including on NPS websites) for the purposes of interpretation, exhibits, and education.


A Team Approach

Among the strengths of Denali's Artist-in-Residence program is that the effort involved in keeping the program going and growing draws on wide support and contributions of members of the community and park staff. Many different people share responsibility for discrete aspects of program operations -- from coordinating residencies, to facilitating public outreach activities, to cataloging and protecting donated artwork, to updating offerings and information here on the park website.

Learn how to apply to the Denali Artist-in-Residence Program

Last updated: March 7, 2019

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


907 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am to 4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.

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