National Museum of Wildlife Art – A Must See!

The next morning, our quest for wildlife continued.

National Elk Refuge was created in 1912 to provide a sanctuary for one of the largest elk herds on earth. We were told that bighorn sheep frequent the area.

We drove all the way to the end of the road and saw many prairie dogs popping their heads here and there. But no bighorn sheep.

prairie dog

Then, just as we were on our way out of the refuge, we saw him…

A beautiful pronghorn!

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He paused and gazed at us as we drove past him. Also known as the American antelope, pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere!

Situated 2.5 miles north of Jackson, Wyoming is the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

The museum boasts the largest collection of Carl Rungius’ works in the United States.

Born in Berlin, Runguis attended the Berlin Art Academy between 1888 and 1890. In 1894, he accepted an invitation from his uncle to come to the United States for a moose hunt in Maine. During the summer of 1895, Rungius visited Wyoming for the first time. Falling in love with the wide-open spaces and abundant wildlife, he told biographer William Schaldach, “My decision to cut all ties with the Old World and to live in America for good was due in no small part to this Wyoming trip. For my heart was in the West.” Later in his life, he spent the majority of his summers in Banff, Alberta, painting big horn sheep, mountain goats, grizzly bears and moose in the vast Canadian Rockies. Carl Runguis is widely recognized as the preeminent big game painter and the first career wildlife artist in North America.

Following the success of Carl Rungius, Bob Kuhn became one of the greatest wildlife artists of the late 1990s.

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PAS DE DEUX 1975, Acrylic on Board

Kuhn often painted simple backgrounds with horizontal bands of light. He was also a keen observer of animals – sketching their movement and behavior until he captured just the right gesture.

The museum also exhibits works by some well-known European artists such as Henri Rousseau

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Exotic Landscape with Tiger and Hunters

And Pablo Picasso.

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As well as many contemporary American artists

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Chief
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Boy with Fox by Grace Carpenter Hudson

including this painting called Antelope by Georgia O’Keefe.

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Current exhibits include “Endangered Species” by Andy Wahol

And John Gould’s Hummingbirds.

Gould is a famous English ornithologist and bird artist. His identification of the birds now nicknamed “Darwin’s finches” moved Charles Darwin closer to his theory of evolution through natural selection.

Hummingbirds are known for the brilliant iridescence of their feathers.

By employing talented artists who used gold leaf, watercolors, oils and lacquer, Gould oversaw the production of a total 418 different hand-colored prints throughout his lifetime.

Before exiting the museum, we happened upon a room filled with vintage national park posters.

In 1933, President Roosevelt implemented the New Deal program to alleviate unemployment after the Great Depression. One of the many programs included the World Progress Administration (WPA), which hired artists to produce silk screened promotional posters for the newly-formed National Park Service (NPS). Fourteen posters were completed before the project was terminated in 1943 due to the onset of WWII. The posters were quickly forgotten.

In 1973, working in Grand Teton National Park as a seasonal park ranger, Doug Leen discovered one of the posters while cleaning out an old storage shed. It took him another 25 years of research to uncover the black and white negatives for the other designs in the NPS archives.

Using the Gran Teton posters as a guide, Leen and his artists were able to replicate the original 14 posters. By popular demand, he also designed an additional 35+ new posters in the historic WPA style.

This concludes our visits to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming.

Next up – Yellowstone National Park.

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18 thoughts on “National Museum of Wildlife Art – A Must See!

  1. Great post! I enjoyed seeing the pronghorn running, and how fortunate he/she stopped for you, as they are so fast and so skittish, they can vanish instantly. Great capture of the iridescence on the hummingbird as well. Also enjoyed the art, especially the poster and the Georgia O’Keefe.

    Liked by 1 person

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