Museum Collection

A cropped image of a mouth and eye socket of a yellowed canine skull
One of more than 150 skulls and skeletal materials in the museum collection from the park’s Wolf Project, wolf 007F was released in Yellowstone in 1995 as a Rose Creek pup. She joined 002M from the Crystal Creek pack in 1996 to form the Leopold Pack, the first naturally formed pack of the new era. She was killed by wolves of the Geode Creek pack in 2002.

NPS

 

Yellowstone’s museum collection contains more than 720,000 items that, along with the archives and library collection, document the cultural and natural history of the park. The museum collection consists of natural history, archeological, and cultural objects, including obsidian points, skulls from the first wolves reintroduced in the park, Thomas Moran’s original watercolor field sketches, William Henry Jackson’s photographs, furniture from the historic hotels and other historic structures, and an extensive historic vehicle collection ranging from stagecoaches and wagons, through early buses and automobiles, to fire trucks and a snowmobile.

The collection is used each year by park staff and other researchers looking for background information on Yellowstone history, specific reference material, and illustrations for commercial products, school programs, special events, and adult education. The televised series, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” by Ken Burns contained hundreds of images from Yellowstone’s collections.

Temporary and Traveling Exhibits: While the facility was designed to be a research center and state-of-the-art storage facility, rather than a museum, the main and upper floor lobbies do include small changing exhibits for public viewing. Topics vary from history, culture, art, and natural history. Current exhibits include:

  • A Window into Yellowstone’s Wonders: 150 Years of Collecting in the First National Park: This exhibit offers highlights from the museum, archives, and library collections documenting 150 years of Yellowstone and 150 years of documenting and preserving the story of Yellowstone through heritage collections.
  • Through the Eyes of a Master: Thomas Moran's 1871 Field Sketches. A small selection of watercolor sketches (high quality reproductions) done by artist Thomas Moran during the 1871 Hayden Expedition through what would become Yellowstone National Park. Previously displayed in the Albright Visitor Center. NOTE: Most of the Moran sketches are currently on loan to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, for the exhibit Scenes of Transcendent Beauty: Thomas Moran's Yellowstone, on display through August 23, 2022. More information here.
  • Thomas Moran's oil paintings, "The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" and "The Chasm of the Colorado" anchor the exhibit Thomas Moran and the 'Big Picture' at the Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.
Tours: Free public behind-the-scenes tours are offered Wednesays from 4:00-5:00 PM between Memorial Day (May 30) and Labor Day (Sept. 5). Space is limited, please call 307-344-2264 to register.
 

Hours

With exception of some restricted collections, such as Thomas Moran’s original watercolor field sketches, William Henry Jackson’s photographs, and other rare or fragile items, the museum collections are accessible to researchers by appointment only. Appointments are generally available Monday-Thursday, 9am-4pm, with at least 48 hours notice. Email us for more information.

Closed federal holidays and the following dates:January 16
February 20
May 29
July 4
September 4
October 7, 10-11
November 11, 24-25
December 19-January 2

Research Requests

To access Yellowstone’s museum collections, researchers must complete and sign the following forms: Access Policy, Researcher Registration form, and Copyright Waiver. Anyone interested in obtaining reproduction copies in the form of one-time use digital files of historic images from the museum collections, please review the reproduction fee information. You may submit your request information and all forms electronically to yell_heritage_center@nps.gov or mail the forms to

Yellowstone National Park
Heritage & Research Center
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Online CollectionsSelected portions of our records have been digitized and placed online. This is an ongoing project.
Montana Memory Project: Collections include Superintendent's Annual and Monthly reports, maps and drawings, oral histories, and photographs.
Open Parks Network: Historic photographs taken by the Park's official photographers and gathered together into thematic albums in the mid-20th century.
NPS Technical Information Center: Historic maps and architectural drawings, and related construction reports for all parks in the National Park Service. Use the Search Filters button to select Yellowstone.
Historic Slide File: Historic photographs from the museum collection organized by era and then by topic.

Contact Information

Miriam Watson, Supervisory Curator
email us
(307) 344-2662
Fax: (406) 848-9958
Mailing Address:
Yellowstone National Park Archives
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

More Information

Last updated: October 6, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park , WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

Contact Us

Stay Connected