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:
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or mail the forms to
Yellowstone National Park
Miriam Watson, Supervisory Curator
Last updated: October 6, 2022