Place

Kolb Studio

a rambling multi-story craftsman style wood frame building perched on the edge of a canyon cliff.
The historic, sprawling, 5-story and 23-room Kolb Studio is perched right on the rim of Grand Canyon

NPS/Michael Quinn

Quick Facts
Location:
Village Historic District
Significance:
Historic Home, Photo Studio and Theater
Designation:
National Historic Landmark
MANAGED BY:
Grand Canyon Conservancy

Audio Description, Automated External Defibrillator (AED), Benches/Seating, Fire Extinguisher, First Aid Kit Available, Gifts/Souvenirs/Books, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Information, Information - Maps Available, Information - Ranger/Staff Member Present, Parking - Auto

Hours of Operation

8 am to 6 pm daily through March 2, 2024.
Beginning Sunday, March 3 - Open daily: 8 am to 7 pm.


A home, business, toll gate, and photography studio, this historic building has been rebuilt and reimagined many times during its tenure on the rim of Grand Canyon. From humble beginnings, Kolb Studio grew and changed with the family who called it home.


Nearly demolished in the 1960s, this structure stands today as a park icon, art gallery, and bookstore for visitors in the vicinity of Bright Angel Trail.

Currently operated by the park's non-profit partner, Grand Canyon Conservancy, visitors can purchase artwork, books, gifts, souvenirs, and basic hiking gear, or simply stop by for park information and exhibits on the Kolb Brothers' life and adventures on the edge of the canyon.

Kolb Studio Exhibits:
 

The Amazing Kolb Brothers: A Grand Life at Grand Canyon
This Exhibit will run from January 25, through September 7, 2024 

See the Amazing Kolb Brothers Exhibit at Kolb Studio, house-turned-museum perched perilously on a western precipice in Grand Canyon Village. — View their antique cameras, study paintings by plein-air artists, and watch their 1912 motion picture travelogue, about their life and river trips down the Colorado River. 

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art Exhibition and Sale
September 15, 2024, through January 20, 2025
Since 2009, CoA has invited participating artists to paint “en plein air” (outside on location) for a week at the canyon. The works produced from the event will be available for purchase online and on display at historic Kolb Studio during the four-month sale and exhibition. Details > 

Celebration of Art (CoA) is a wonderful tradition at Grand Canyon National Park, providing a vibrant experience for visitors, a venue for artists inspired by the canyon, and a successful fundraiser to benefit a dedicated art venue and arts programming at the park. 

History

In 1901, Ellsworth Kolb arrived at the rim of Grand Canyon by train. By October 1902, he had persuaded his brother Emery to join him. A year later, the brothers established their photography business near Bright Angel Trailhead after receiving permission from Ralph Cameron, who at the time owned Bright Angel Trail. They camped out in a small tent on the canyon rim before building a small wooden house in 1906, which they called Kolb Studio.

Over the next 12 years, the Kolb brothers established themselves as both photographers and adventurers. From capturing unorthodox photos of hard-to-reach areas of the canyon to documenting their 101 days running the Colorado River on film with a motion-picture camera, Ellsworth and Emery revealed images that few had dreamed of. Selling their images in leather-bound books for three dollars each and touring the country to present their film lecture series, the Kolb brothers made a name for themselves and opened the eyes of a nation to this wonder of the world.

For decades, the Kolb brothers continued to make a living out of Kolb Studio on Grand Canyon's South Rim. Later in life, when their contractual agreements with the park ended, the National Park Service actually wanted to demolish this studio in the 1960s. The architecture wasn't quite in line with the style and theme of other buildings in the park. After several years of quibbling between Emery and the agency, the structure was saved when Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, legislation that effectively protected park structures over 50 years old from being destroyed.

Grand Canyon National Park

Open Transcript 

Transcript

Kolb Studio

It’s not an exaggeration to claim that photographers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb helped turn the Grand Canyon into a national icon. They were responsible for building Kolb Studio, one of the earliest tourist destinations on the South Rim. These two made their way west to the Grand Canyon in search of a new lifestyle more exciting than the steel mills of western Pennsylvania.

In 1901, Ellsworth Kolb came to the Grand Canyon. He found the canyon so captivating, that he begged his younger brother Emery to come join him out west. Emery arrived a year later. From here, the brothers started their photography business for tourists on the South Rim.

The brothers began to take photographs of the mule riders from the small toll shack on the Bright Angel Trail. The toll shack would later become a five story photo studio built right on the edge of the canyon! The studio was used to document the trips of visitors and create imagery of the Grand Canyon for the next 75 years.

The Kolb brothers did a lot of exploring in the Grand Canyon; but their adventures didn’t stop at still photography. In 1911, the brothers decided to venture down the Colorado River from start to finish. What made their trip special was the 50lb hand crank motion picture camera.

The footage from their wild ride was turned into the historic film-”Shooting the Rapids of the Colorado River Canyons”. From downstairs in the auditorium of Kolb Studio, this film was shown every day until 1976 when Emery Kolb passed away.

Today, the film is no longer played however, visitors can still enjoy Kolb Studio by touring the gallery that now resides inside the auditorium room. The gallery continues to honor the Kolb Legacy by contributing to the cultural benefit of the community and canyon visitors for years to come!

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Duration:
1 minute, 52 seconds

Photographers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb helped turn the Grand Canyon into a national icon. They built Kolb Studio, one of the earliest tourist destinations on the South Rim. The brothers began to take photographs of the mule riders from a small toll shack on the Bright Angel Trail. The toll shack would later become today's five story home, theater and photo studio built right on the edge of the canyon! The studio was used to document the trips of visitors and create imagery of Grand Canyon for 75 years.

Last updated: February 5, 2024