The Old Faithful area was bustling on Friday, and geyser gazing wasn’t the only activity on the agenda. As another sign that the summer season has officially arrived in Yellowstone National Park, on May 25 the Yellowstone Art & Photography Center re-opened just in time to greet Memorial Day weekend visitors.
The Yellowstone Art & Photography Center celebrates the role of art in the preservation of Yellowstone National Park and all public lands. The walls are adorned with Yellowstone-themed works of art and photography to admire, but the space is about creating as much as viewing. Visitors are encouraged to participate in hands-on activities throughout the summer.
“The center offers a variety of art-focused options for the visitor they won’t find anywhere else,” explained Jessie Knirsch, Art & Photography Center Coordinator for Yellowstone Forever. “Exhibits take an in-depth look at the crucial role that art has played in Yellowstone throughout history. We also offer free daily art programs that allow visitors to take a deep breath, practice a new art form, and learn how to interpret the park through their own vision.”
Throughout the day, the center offers ongoing activities for all age levels such as painting a waterfall or drawing a geyser. More formal programs vary from plein air watercolors to field sketching to drawing a still life. Some are led by the Artists-in-Residence, who live and work in Yellowstone for part of the summer season.
“All of our activities are free and no experience is required,” said Knirsch. “We offer programs that visitors can quickly pop into for a few minutes or stay for an hour or two.”
Return visitors to the Yellowstone Art & Photography Center will notice that its interior received a facelift this past winter.
“The redesign features a historical-to-contemporary timeline display, to compare the evolving styles of art,” described Knirsch. “As one walks through the space they view drawings, watercolors, and photographs by Thomas Moran, Henry Wood Elliot, William Henry Jackson, and F. J. Haynes followed by works from contemporary local artist Aaron Schuerr.
“This year we have also added an artist studio in the exhibit space, allowing visitors to watch an artist in action and even work alongside them in a variety of mediums,” said Knirsch.
While supplies needed for all programs are free, the center also offers a retail component with photography supplies and art-based products.
The center is housed in the former Haynes Photo Shop opened in the Old Faithful area by photographer Frank J. Haynes in 1927 and in recent years relocated to a nearby site between the Visitor Education Center and Old Faithful Lodge.
It is open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information, please contact Yellowstone Forever at 406.848.2400 or learn more at Yellowstone.org/art.