By Christine Gianas Weinheimer EBS CONTRIBUTOR
Yellowstone National Park’s hub for artists—from first-timers to professionals—is now open for the summer season. Park visitors can stop by the Yellowstone Art and Photography Center near Old Faithful to view works of art, interact with artists, and even create their own masterpiece.
Art and photography played a central role in the establishment of Yellowstone as the world’s first national park, and Yellowstone continues to inspire today. The center’s gallery features a permanent collection of historic and contemporary art and photography with Yellowstone as the subject, and temporary exhibits change each summer. But, as the center’s coordinator, Jessie Knirsch, explains, the space is about creating as much as viewing.
“This is an interactive and dynamic space to learn about the importance of art to the park,” Knirsch said. “By participating in programs, watching artists at work, or simply checking out the gallery, visitors can experience Yellowstone through another’s interpretation and develop their own.”
Visitors of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to take part in hands-on activities. Coloring, drawing and activity sheets are available throughout the day, and the center offers a free watercolor program daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“Visitors have an opportunity to create their own handmade souvenir of their time in Yellowstone. They can choose between painting Old Faithful or walking to the river and enjoying a quiet break from the crowds,” Knirsch said.
All programs are free and include supplies. For those who wish to create art on their own, the center sells photography supplies and art-based products.
Visitors to the center also have a chance to interact with and learn from professional artists. Artists-in-Residence for Yellowstone Forever, the park’s official nonprofit partner, live and work in Yellowstone and engage with park visitors. Ten artists will reside at the center for a week or more this summer to create art and share their creativity through workshops and lectures.
“For nearly 150 years artists of all disciplines have been inspired by the limitless and continually changing landscape of Yellowstone,” Knirsch said. “The Artists-in-Residence program provides them with undisturbed time to create work in Yellowstone while living within the park and completely immersing themselves in its scenery and culture.”
The Yellowstone Art and Photography Center is located between the Visitor Education Center and Old Faithful Lodge, in a historic building that was restored and repurposed by Yellowstone Forever. The center is open for the season through Sept. 30, seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Visit yellowstone.org/art for a schedule of artists and programs.
Christine Gianas Weinheimer lives in Bozeman and has been writing about Yellowstone for 17 years.