About the Program
In keeping with National Park Service arts-related programs across the country, Denali National Park and Preserve embraces the strong connection between arts and culture and the land that the National Park Service is entrusted to protect and share with the public.
Artists have had a major impact on the creation and development of America's national parks since the beginning of the national park movement. Dramatic 19th century paintings of the western landscape raised public consciousness about the natural wonders of the West and helped stimulate interest in their preservation. In fact, public response to Thomas Moran's splendid landscape paintings of the Yellowstone region in 1871 led directly to the creation of America's first national park.
The artist Belmore Browne was one of the first proponents of the establishment of Mt. McKinley (now Denali) National Park, in the early years of the twentieth century. Not only an accomplished painter and outdoorsman, Browne was also a superb mountaineer who was on three of the most important pioneering climbs on Denali, in 1906, 1910, and 1912. Browne joined Charles Sheldon in proposing protection of the land and animals of the Denali region, and their testimony led directly to the establishment of the park in 1917.
Since that time, practically every important landscape painter who has worked in Alaska has painted "The Mountain," and many have explored and painted the regions surrounding it which are now part of Denali National Park and Preserve. These artists – Sydney Laurence, Eustace Ziegler, Ted Lambert, Jules Dahlager, and a host of their followers – created paintings, drawings, and prints which have played a significant role in establishing not just the image of the Park, but of Alaska, in the minds of the American public and the world.
Since 1984, numerous national parks have begun Artist-in-Residence programs. With the establishment of this program, Denali National Park joined the list of those parks which seek to recognize and support the role played by artists in preservation and interpretation of our country's natural wonders.
Learn more about the Denali Artist-in-Residence program:
The Denali Artist-in-Residence program was created in 2001 by the National Park Service and artist Kesler Woodward, who was the program’s first artist-in-residence. Since its inception, Kesler has served as the program’s advisor and on the selection committee.
The program has since grown to include three or four artists per summer, each for 10-day stays in the East Fork Cabin. The East Fork Cabin is also known as the Murie Cabin, as it was the base from which naturalist Adolph Murie conducted his landmark study of wolves, sheep, and other predator/prey relationships in the Park from 1939-1941.
From 2007 to 2010, Alaska Geographic managed the Denali Artist-in Residence program and helped to expand the program, both in terms of the number of artists as well as locations, and integrating the arts into more education programs and activities at Denali. A special exhibit 'Ascension: Exploring the Arts of Denali' linked artwork of Denali with scientific exploration of Denali. The exhibit was hosted at the Museum of the North in Fairbanks from October 2009 through January 2010.
To see the work of previous Denali artists-in-residence, please visit our online gallery. Information about previous artists-in-residence can be found on the history of participants page.
The Artist-in-Residence program at Denali National Park and Preserve began in 2001 and offers professional artists the opportunity to pursue their work amidst the natural splendors of Denali Park. The park currently provides the use of the historic East Fork Cabin for ten-day periods from June through August. Other accommodations may be available in the future. No stipend is provided.
The East Fork Cabin, also known as the Murie Cabin, was the base from which naturalist Adolph Murie conducted his landmark study of wolves, sheep, and predator/prey relationships in the park from 1939-41. Built in the late 1920s by the Alaska Road Commission, the East Fork Cabin is located 43 miles into the park, just off the park road, in a dramatic setting on the East Fork of the Toklat River between Sable Pass and Polychrome Pass. A rustic but well-equipped base from which to work and explore, the 14' x 16' cabin has an outhouse, propane heater, range, oven, refrigerator, bunk beds, and a full complement of cooking equipment. There is no electricity or running water, but water jugs may be replenished at Park Ranger stations and visitors' facilities, and showers are available at the Toklat Ranger Station 12 miles from the cabin. Artists chosen must be comfortable in a wilderness setting.
Through the years more than a dozen exceptional artists have participated in the Denali Artist-in-Residence program. Click here to view an online gallery of some of the works created as a direct result of the experience.