Examine the Evolution of America’s National Parks at The Huntington

The Huntington Library announced its second exhibition celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service in a press release Wednesday. “Geographies of Wonder: Evolution of the National Park Idea, 1933-2016” will be displayed in the Library’s West Hall October 22, 2016-February 13, 2017.

William R. Leigh, Grand Canyon (1911), as adapted for Fred Harvey Service dining car menu, 1950. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Reprinted with permission of the BNSF Railway Company. Courtesy The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Gardens

William R. Leigh, Grand Canyon (1911), as adapted for Fred Harvey Service dining car menu, 1950. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Reprinted with permission of the BNSF Railway Company. Courtesy The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

“Geographies of Wonder: Evolution of the National Park Idea, 1933-2016” seeks to showcase the challenges faced by the National Park Service since its establishment regarding the ever-shifting concept of a national park. With its founding through the 1916 Organic Act, the National Park Service established a dual mandate: to promote national parks to the public and to maintain conservation efforts that preserve parks for future generations. Using a combination of works from the Huntington’s own collection as well as a number of private collections, the exhibition will display artifacts which include promotional material, scientific research, and more to illustrate the advertising campaigns for national parks that ran parallel to emerging ecological park studies.

The press release highlights the Grand Canyon as an example that illustrates the changing visions of national parks throughout history. William R. Leigh created promotional artwork of the Grand Canyon National Park for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Co. Though the artwork was originally created to advertise tourism, public perception of the national park evolved to be more aware of the impact of human development on and around the area.

Exhibit curator Peter Blodgett noted that “tension arises” from the National Park Service’s objectives as the number of national parks has increased over the years and urbanization pushes human communities right up against to park boundaries, so the exhibition hints at the consequences of this legislation. According to Blodgett, the exhibition aims to make visitors “consider how national parks should evolve through the 21st century and beyond.”

The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif., 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and major holidays. Information: 626-405-2100 or huntington.org.

Featured image – The Huntington Art Gallery © The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

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