100 Years of America’s Beautiful National Parks

The greatest of the great outdoors. http://slate.me/1TGzTtr
  1. The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
  2. The George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY is commemorating the centennial with a special exhibition, “Photography and America’s National Parks.”
  3. Jamie Allen, the curator, says the exhibition focuses on three main themes.
  4. The first theme explores the ways early photographers shaped America’s views of iconic sites like Yosemite National Park.
    “Every 19th century photographer who went to that site took the same picture, as did Ansel Adams; so it just perpetuates through time,” Allen said.
  5. The second theme focuses on the use of photography as a surveying tool.
  6. The third theme is tourism — specifically, the way photography inspired ordinary people to visit America’s national parks.
  7. In the early days, photographers made stereo cards that provided a three-dimensional view of the parks.
    Later, these were replaced by postcards and snapshots.
  8. The exhibition includes over 170 images from the past hundred years.
    Allen says she wanted to include pictures from all 59 national parks, but there just wasn’t enough space.
  9. Still, she enjoyed “digging through the boxes and drawers of these fantastic prints” to create an unbroken narrative of the past hundred years.
  10. Allen was especially delighted to see that modern photographers are still finding inspiration in the parks.
  11. “Contemporary photographers—they are returning the gaze not necessary to the landscape but to photography itself, and what’s unique about the photographic medium that can tell us about ourselves and the landscape we occupy,” she says.