The national parks are closed, but these images will take you there

The animals get a break, while anyone with the misfortune to plan their own breaks in the national parks during the government shutdown will have to avail themselves of Jellystone Parks. Let the great national stress-out begin. To help, we’ve compiled some of the many images of national parks in the MIA collection, several of which are on view. Come in as often as you need. We’re only closed Mondays.


“Monolith, the Face of Half Dome,” by Ansel Adams, circa 1926.

The MIA has 64 photographs by Ansel Adams, whose grandiose large-format images of America’s national parks have shaped our pride and self-identity as much as anything. His interest in photography began during a trip to Yosemite National Park in 1916 and, of course, there’s now an Ansel Adams gallery in the park itself. His image of a winter storm in Yosemite National Park opened this post. Here’s his take on the park’s famous Half-Dome.


Alfred Bierstadt’s “Merced River in Yosemite” from 1868.

Alfred Bierstadt, one of the great landscape painters of the Hudson River School, painted this view of the Merced River after a seven-week trip through the Yosemite Valley in 1863, not long before John Muir arrived and began thinking of ways to preserve it. This painting is on view in gallery 323.

Edward Weston's "Juniper, Lake Tenaya, Yosemite National Park, California" from 1937.

Edward Weston’s “Juniper, Lake Tenaya, Yosemite National Park, California” from 1937.

Edward Weston also photographed in Yosemite. In fact, Weston was photographing the park with Ansel Adams in the summer of 1937 when he took this modernist image of a gnarled juniper tree. Incidently, Adams’s Yosemite Valley darkroom caught fire that summer and hundreds of unprinted negatives burned before Weston and his future wife, Charis, helped extinguish the blaze.

pfohlFinally, here’s John Pfahl’s slightly more contemporary image of the moonrise over Pie Pan, in Capitol Reef National Park, in Utah, from 1977. Pfahl is something of an experimentalist in landscape photography, best known for his Altered Landscapes series from the early 1970s in which he added bits of man-made detritus—tape, string, and so on—to otherwise bland scenery.