Inside the National Museum of Wildlife Art

Featured Article, On the Road, Travel Destinations
on August 15, 2013
Stuart Englert A herd of sculpted elk welcomes visitors to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which is open year-round.

An illustration of a bison herd thundering across the prairie, a sculpture of a grizzly bear reclining in the Rocky Mountains, and a painting of a red fox chasing a snowshoe hare are among the beautiful works exhibited at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.

Open since 1987, the museum contains more than 5,000 cataloged drawings, paintings, sculptures and sketches, the nation’s premier public collection of artwork devoted to the wild animals of North America—and the world.

“Nowhere else can you see such a concentration of quality art that investigates our relationship to the other creatures with whom we share this planet,” says curator Adam Harris.

Situated on a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge, the 51,000-square-foot museum houses a collection of 19th- through 21st-century artwork, including Carl Rungius’ realistic paintings of North American big game animals and Andy Warhol’s 1983 vivid screen prints of endangered species from around the globe.

Begun with 250 paintings and sculptures donated by collectors Bill and Joffa Kerr, the museum today showcases works by some 300 artists, including John James Audubon, George Catlin and Charles M. Russell, as well as the contents of John Clymer’s Jackson Hole art studio, donated by his wife and family in 1991.

Comprised of 14 distinctive galleries, the museum features temporary and traveling exhibitions, a sculpture trail, gift shop and cafe, Children’s Discovery Gallery, and a research library with 5,000 volumes about wildlife art, natural history and the American West.

While dedicated primarily to artwork of animals native to North America, the museum also exhibits art of species found in Africa, Asia and Europe. “We hope to set the standard for quality wildlife art,” Harris says.