Ansel Adams Gallery Rehabilitation

Left photo shows Harry Best standing in front of Best Studio in the Old Yosemite Village circa 1922-1925 and right photo shows present day Ansel Adams Gallery porch
Left: Harry Best standing in front of Best Studio in the Old Yosemite Village circa 1922-1925; Right: Ansel Adams Gallery porch (in 2011)


Best's Studio was one of several artists' studios operating in Yosemite Valley at the turn of the twentieth century. Harry Best opened his studio in Yosemite Valley in 1902. In 1925 he relocated the business from Old Yosemite Village (near the Chapel) to its present location (between the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and the Yosemite Post Office).

A young and talented artist named Ansel Adams often played the piano at Best's Studio. Ansel met his future wife, Harry Best's daughter Virginia, there and it is where he first publicly exhibited his art. He and his family lived and worked at this site through the late 1940s.

In the 1960s, Ansel made improvements to the Gallery and designed the porch and pergola that exist today. These buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places and sited within the Yosemite Valley Archeological District. Ansel Adam's family still operates their photography studio and gallery there.

The Adams operate their business and house employees on site through a concessions contract with the National Park Service, which is responsible for maintaining the buildings. Minor repairs and upgrades have been made in recent times; however, after more than 90 years of continuous operation and occupation, the buildings were in need of major repair and rehabilitation. A 2002 National Park Service (NPS) Facility Assessment recommended that the main building undergo substantial stabilization and rehabilitation, and the residences either be substantially stabilized and rehabilitated or completely replaced due to their deteriorating condition. These buildings are historically significant for their association to the late Ansel Adams. The site and this area of Yosemite Valley are rich in traditional cultural and archaeological history. Rehabilitation plans for this project sought to protect and avoid impacts to these treasured and sensitive resources.

Goals of the project were to:

  • Maintain and improve the living and working environment for visitors and staff by repairing and improving features such as insulation, electrical, plumbing, foundation, and public access to the gallery and studio spaces.
  • Improve structural stability and longevity of the buildings
  • Improve building conditions to meet modern standards for accessibility and fire/life/safety requirements
  • Protect and avoid impacts to sensitive cultural and historic resources, following National Historic Preservation Act and NPS policies and guidelines

The environmental assessment and related Finding of No Significant Action were finalized in spring of 2014.


Last updated: June 1, 2023

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