Take a step back in time...and enter the Yosemite Museum. Yosemite's collection of over 5 million items is one of the oldest and finest in the National Park Service (NPS) in terms of size, value and complexity (2007 Yosemite Museum Master Plan), as its holdings include all manner of natural and cultural materials related to Yosemite and its environs.
The Yosemite Museum opened to the public in 1926, and was built to be a model for museums in national parks. The Yosemite Research Library (YRL), which has grown up alongside the museum, is a research resource with some 10,000 books relevant to Yosemite, as well as photographs, articles and other materials. The YRL began acquiring books in 1923.
The YRL assists staff in carrying out the NPS mission as set forth in the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916. In order to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein," park staff and associated researchers must have available as much information Yosemite and its resources as possible. The YRL provides access to information required for protecting, restoring, and maintaining the natural and cultural resources of Yosemite National Park, and for the Park's ongoing operation. In order to "provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations," the park staff must have access to the best information available. The library collection provides a major source of information for management of the parks, as well as for preparing programs, exhibits, and providing other visitor services.
The mission of the Yosemite Research Library is to select, preserve, and make available materials that enable park staff and researchers in their work. Its principal emphasis is to support:
Awards and Grants
The Yosemite Research Library, the Museum, and the Archives make up the Museum Branch within the Division of Interpretation and Education at Yosemite National Park. Together they preserve natural specimens, human cultural artifacts, and records that document Yosemite's history. The Museum Branch provides for public enjoyment and understanding of these collections through exhibits and publications, their use in research, and their preservation and documentation using state-of-the-art techniques. The Yosemite Museum Branch collects, protects, preserves, provides access to, and uses objects, specimens, and archival and manuscript collections to aid understanding and to advance knowledge. These collections play important roles in resource management, research, and interpretive programs, and function as databases for park natural and cultural resources (2012 Long Range Interpretive Plan). [29 MB PDF] Our collection is one of the largest and most diverse in the National Park Service and now contains over 5 million items.
The Yosemite Research Library, maintained by the museum, is an extensive research resource. The collection and the librarian are located in a 914-square-foot library on the second floor of the Museum building (Yosemite Museum Master Plan 110KB PDF). The NPS Library Program operates the NPS LIBRIS online public access catalog for the National Park System.
The Yosemite Archives, located in El Portal, contains National Park Service records, personal papers, manuscript collections, oral histories, and other documentation materials. Searchable finding aids are now available through the Online Archive of California (OAC). Several collections, including the Joseph Dixon collection[ 760 kb PDF], have been partially digitized and can be perused onsite using a computer database.
Research is by appointment; research hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 4:30 pm. To make an appointment or if you have questions email the archivist.
The Yosemite Museum
The historic Yosemite Museum is now home to our Indian Cultural Museum, Exhibit Gallery, some collections, and staff offices.
Last updated: February 1, 2021