|The exhibit, titled “POSTERity,” will be on view at the DOI Museum from April 8 through spring 2015.|
From 1938 to 1941, the National Park Service employed artists via the Works Progress Administration to produce silk screened promotional posters for national park sites. The artists worked out of the NPS Western Museum Laboratories in Berkeley, California, and the 14 designs they created were well received.
With the onset of World War II, however, production ceased and the posters were lost to history until the early 1970s, when a seasonal park ranger named Doug Leen happened upon an original at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Fascinated with the artwork and the story behind it, Leen set out to learn more.
Just over 40 of these exceedingly rare national park posters have since resurfaced and are in NPS archives, the Library of Congress, and private collectors. Through the course of two decades and extensive research, Leen and his company, Ranger Doug's Enterprises, have not only painstakingly reproduced the 14 original WPA designs, but have also – working in collaboration with individual parks – created and screen printed more than 25 new designs “in the style of” the WPA artists.
The iconic prints sustain a rich artistic tradition and resonate with park and vintage graphics enthusiasts worldwide.
The Department of the Interior Museum has united for the first time six WPA originals and a full complement of Leen's contemporary editions for this visually stunning retrospective. Featured are nearly 50 classic posters associated with 36 national parks, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Interior Museum.
The exhibit, titled “POSTERity,” will be on view to the public from April 8 through spring 2015. The Interior Museum is located inside the U.S. Department of the Interior at 1849 C Street, N.W. in Washington, D.C. Museum hours are Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free, but building access requires visitors to present a photo ID and pass through a security checkpoint.
For more information, go to www.doi.gov/interiormuseum or call (202) 208-4743.
By: Tracy Baetz, curator, Department of the Interior Museum
April 8, 2014
This story appears in the April 8, 2014, edition of InsideNPS.