Yellowstone Forever

June 19, 2012

Yellowstone Art Treasures

Help Preserve Rare Pieces of Yellowstone History

Minerva Terrace by Thomas MoranAfter years of searching, the National Gallery of Art has a remarkable opportunity to acquire four of Thomas Moran’s most important watercolors, including three Yellowstone images. Few works of art have ever played such a decisive role in American history.

In 1871, within weeks of returning from his trip to the American West as part of the Hayden Expedition, Moran completed a series of watercolors that introduced an extraordinary landscape.

The paintings circulated on Capitol Hill, and Congress quickly began discussing the possibility of protecting the spectacular waterfalls, geysers, and hot springs of Yellowstone by declaring the area the nation's—and the world's—first national park. 

National Gallery curators believe that two of the paintings were among those actually shown to members of Congress during the Yellowstone debate in 1872.

Mammoth Hot Springs by Thomas MoranMoran’s western watercolors are highly coveted and extremely rare. The acquisition of these Yellowstone works would ensure the preservation of these priceless paintings as well as the opportunity for them to be enjoyed by the public for generations to come. 

Securing these works for the nation would also represent an important step forward in the National Gallery’s continuing effort to expand the nation’s collection by adding superb images of the American West. 

Tower Fall by Thomas MoranThe National Gallery in Washington, DC is open free of charge to all visitors 363 days a year.

The National Gallery has secured and committed $1.1 million toward the purchase of these works.  They need to raise an additional $1.9 million in order to give the paintings a home in the nation’s collection.

To learn more or contribute toward the purchase of these paintings, please contact Nancy Anderson, curator and head of the Department of American & British Paintings at the National Gallery:

Photographs by Rob Shelley, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.
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