Arts in the Parks

Carol Harding and Kes Woodward in art gallery
Carol Harding, founding program coordinator, with Kesler Woodward, founding artist, at the dedication of the Eielson Visitor Center in 2008.

NPS Photo / Kent Miller

A History of Arts in National Parks

Artists have had a significant impact on the creation and development of America's national parks since the beginning of the national park movement. Dramatic nineteenth century paintings of the western landscape raised public consciousness about the natural wonders of the West and helped stimulate interest in their preservation. Public response to Thomas Moran's splendid landscape paintings from the Hayden U.S. Geological Survey of the Yellowstone region in 1871 led directly to the creation of America's first national park.

The artist Belmore Browne was one of the first proponents of the establishment of Mt. McKinley (now Denali) National Park, in the early years of the twentieth century. Not only an accomplished painter and outdoorsman, but a superb mountaineer who was on three of the most important pioneering climbs on Denali, in 1906, 1910, and 1912. Browne joined Charles Sheldon in proposing protection of the land and animals of the Denali region, and their testimony led directly to the establishment of the park in 1917.

Since that time, practically every important landscape painter who has worked in Alaska has painted "The Mountain," and many have explored and painted the regions surrounding it which are now part of Denali National Park and Preserve. These artists--Sydney Laurence, Eustace Ziegler, Ted Lambert, Jules Dahlager, and a host of their followers--created paintings, drawings, and prints which have played a significant role in establishing not just the image of the park, but of Alaska, in the minds of the American public and the world.

Learn more about the history of the arts in national parks

Two images, a woman holds a paintbrush in her teeth, and a man stands next to a painting
Tammy Holland and Christopher Judd

Program Recognizes Talents of Young Alaska Artists

The Artist-in-Residence program in 2015 awarded scholarships to two talented Alaska artists to participate in a three-day landscape painting field course in the park hosted by Alaska Geographic. The instructor is David Mollett, an accomplished painter and a 2003 AiR-program alumnus.

Tammy Holland, a BFA student at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, was born in Fairbanks and grew up alternating between Fairbanks and fish camp on the Yukon River near Rampart City. Her family led a subsistence lifestyle hunting, fishing, and gathering in the summers while creating a legacy of breeding, training, and professionally competing in both sprint and distance dog mushing in winters. Her art is a reflection of that childhood, celebrating nature and strong matriarchal bonds through a bold color pallet and perspectives,and bright happy imagery.

Christopher Judd, a BFA student at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, was born and raised in Chugiak. Alongside his studies at UAA he spends his summers attending the Art Students League of New York to focus on drawing and painting from life. His studies kindled a passion for life drawing and portraiture that his work centers around. He recently completed his BFA Thesis show focusing on a series of portraits he did of his grandmother. He hopes to attend the New York Academy of Art in the near future for graduate school.

Last updated: October 3, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


(907) 683-9532
A ranger is available 9 am—4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you get to 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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