By Neala Fugere Yellowstone Forever Communications Coordinator

Art and photography have played a key role in the creation and preservation of Yellowstone National Park. This summer, a new art exhibit at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center will serve as a visual representation of how art inspired a nation to come up with “America’s best idea.”

The collection pays homage to Hudson River School masters Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, and Sandford Robinson Gifford, and features bronze sculptures of the three artists by Greg Wyatt. The sculptures join a multitude of unique items at the Heritage and Research Center. Located just outside Yellowstone’s North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana, the center houses one of the largest collections of historic and cultural artifacts in the National Park Service system.

Moran, Bierstadt, and Gifford are considered some of the most influential late 19th-century American landscape artists. The artistic works of Moran, in particular, were instrumental in persuading Congress to pass the Yellowstone Park Act—ultimately creating Yellowstone National Park. All three artists were members of the Hudson River School, America’s first true artistic fraternity. Hudson River School paintings depict peaceful American landscapes, and often illustrate common 19th-century American themes of discovery, exploration and settlement.

Contemporary sculptor Greg Wyatt was nurtured in the artistic tradition of his native Hudson River Valley at an early age by his father, William Stanley Wyatt, a painter and fine arts professor at Columbia University and the City College of New York. Wyatt’s style merges realistic images inspired by his readings of the Great Books with creative masses of form, space and energy. His work appears in collections across the country and around the world, from sculpture gardens and museum collections to state and private collections.

The Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center houses the park’s museum collection, historic archives, herbarium, and research library. The collection includes several million records, a research library with more than 20,000 publications, and more than 720,000 museum items, from historic vehicles to original Moran art prints.

The exhibition is on display through Sept. 28. The public is welcome and encouraged to tour the exhibit Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Yellowstone Forever is the park’s official education and fundraising nonprofit partner. Their combined operations include 11 educational Park Stores; the Yellowstone Forever Institute, offering in-depth educational programs for visitors of all ages; and a worldwide community of Yellowstone supporters committed to funding visitor education and park preservation. Visit Yellowstone.org for more information.