Celebrating Yellowstone Exhibit

Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Yellowstone National Park 1872-2022

On display at BAM April 29, 2022 – August 6, 2022

The celebration of the anniversary of Yellowstone National Park in reality begins one year before in 1871 with the photos of the F.V. Hayden geological survey taken by survey photographer William Henry Jackson and the artwork of guest artist Thomas Moran. These works are followed by Rudolph Cronau’s pen and inks from 1882 and the photographs of Frank Haynes who opened a photography studio in 1884 in Mammoth Hot Springs. James Stuart’s depiction of Old Faithful in 1885 is complemented by the Haynes photo of the same era.

Art as Documentation

Throughout the Park’s history, photographers and painters have worked to document the strange and wonderful features of the area. The contemporary painters have painted the flora and fauna along with the different geologic and atmospheric features. From Clyde Aspevig’s “Morning Glory Pool” and its intense focus on this majestic feature to Beth Loftin’s “Old Faithful” and its depiction of a group of people doing what so many do in the park- enjoying the immense beauty and majesty.

Animals of Yellowstone

Animals are a main focus in Yellowstone’ and Kyle Sims “Skirting the Thermals” is a depiction of something one might see on a visit to the Park along with Greg Beecham’s “The Wolf.” From the bird’s eye view of Nic Fischer’s “A Bear, Sam, and Laura with Hotel at Lake Yellowstone” to Kent Sperry’s lofty and elegant “Significant Other IX,” the artists’ work to portray their emotions about Yellowstone and what it means to them. Native American Artist in residence at Yellowstone for many years, DG House gives us a fresh take on Yellowstone with her “Of Dragonflies & Bears” along with Willem Volkersz’s “Beyond Yellowstone.” Throughout these 150 years, the variety is endless.

The Lost History of Yellowstone

“The big myth about Yellowstone is that it’s a pristine wilderness untouched by humanity,” says Doug MacDonald. “Native Americans were hunting and gathering here for at least 11,000 years. They were pushed out by the government after the park was established. The Army was brought in to keep them out, and the public was told that Native Americans were never here in the first place because they were afraid of the geysers.” MacDonald is slim, clean-cut, in his early 50s. Originally from central Maine, he is a professor of anthropology at the University of Montana and the author of a recent book, “Before Yellowstone: Native American Archaeology in the National Park.”

Drawing on his own extensive discoveries in the field, the work of previous archaeologist, the historical record and Native American oral traditions, MacDonald provides an essential account of Yellowstone’s human past. Tobin Roop, chief of cultural resources at Yellowstone, says, “As an archaeologist, working in partnership with the park, MacDonald has really opened up our understanding of nuances and complexities of the prehistory.”

After 14 summers excavating in Yellowstone National Park, MacDonald has a simple rule of thumb. “Pretty much anywhere you’d want to pitch a tent, there are artifacts,” he says, holding up a 3,000-year-old obsidian projectile point that his team has just dug up. “Like us, Native American like to camp on flat ground, close to water, with a beautiful view.”

MacDonald see his work, in part, as a moral necessity. “This is a story that was deliberately covered up and it needs to be told,” he says. “Most visitors to the park have no idea that hunter-gatherers were an integral part of this landscape for thousands of years.”

Research by Ondrej Ball, 16-year-old home school student.

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