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small photos of three different national park sites - a textile mill, a splendid dining room in a historic house, and a stream and trees in the Great Smoky Mountains

The National Park Service turns 100 this year! To celebrate, the National Park Service has teamed up with the National Museum of Natural History to present over 50 images by award-winning photographers, showcasing the majesty, diversity, and importance of America's national parks. Photographs will present stories and snapshots from monuments and historic sites, battlefields and picturesque natural scenes from lakeshores and seashores to trails and preserves where both wildlife and people come together.

In addition to the focus on a diversity of National Park sites and stories across the country, the exhibition also highlights ways in which the National Museum of Natural History and the National Park Service have worked together to identify and preserve the country's national treasures and sites. Through field work, collections, and exploratory expeditions, the museum has helped identify and raise awareness of unique natural and cultural heritage sites, such as Yellowstone, Mesa Verde, and the fossil-rich Badlands in South Dakota, to be preserved as national parks for future generations to experience and enjoy.

The Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park, and mountains and clouds in the background

Big Bend National Park, Texas
The Rio Grande
Stan Jorstad, 1995

Big Bend is famous for its geology, varied habitats, and species diversity—including more types of birds, bats, and cacti than any other U.S. national park. Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park is one of the northernmost roosts of the endangered Mexican long‐nosed bat (Leptonycteris nivalis). Smithsonian mammologists provided information essential for conserving and managing these bat populations.


A panoramic scene of Yellowstone, with steam and trees in the background

Yellowstone National Park
West Thumb Geyser Basin
Stan Jorstad, 1989

The world's first national park was established primarily for its extraordinary thermal features and other geologic wonders. It is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

In 1871, geologist Ferdinand Hayden led a team of scientists, photographers, and artists on one of the first federally‐funded surveys of the American West. They sent specimens back to the Smithsonian, and their findings influenced the debate in Congress that led to establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

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