Geographies of Wonder: Origin Stories of America’s National Parks, 1872-1933

Exhibition Website

May 14 2016 - Sep 3 2016

The Huntington

San Marino, CA

This is the first of two consecutive exhibitions commemorating the centennial of the U.S. National Parks Service. Geographies of Wonder: Origin Stories of America’s National Parks 1872‒1933, features items drawn from The Huntington’s collection of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, prints, and related materials. 

Among the treasures on display will be a mammoth 1873 photo album by one of the premier photographers of the day, William Henry Jackson. The book will be opened to a photo of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. Jackson’s photographs, according to historians, played an important role in convincing Congress in 1872 to establish Yellowstone National Park, the first landscape to be so designated by the federal government.

Origin Stories highlights early Euro-American encounters with scenic landscapes that eventually would acquire international renown. Initially, these were eastern settings —the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Natural Bridge in Virginia, and Niagara Falls, N.Y.  But as settlers moved west, great scenic discoveries included Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite Valley. “In those early years of Euro-American settlement, we could claim no great cultural assets like the Louvre or the castles on the Rhine,” said Peter Blodgett, H. Russell Smith Foundation Curator of Western Historical Manuscripts at The Huntington, and exhibition curator. “So these places quickly became our icons. They were essential to our cultural identity and began to draw people from all over the world.”

Exhibition overview from Museum website 

  • American
  • Landscape

Exhibition Venues & Dates