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Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kings Canyon National Park

Ansel Adams
Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last week Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiled an exhibit within the corridors of the Department of the Interior of 26 never-before installed murals taken by famed photographer and conservationist Ansel Adams.

Among the shots is this one, of the Kearsarge Pinnacles in Kings River Canyon.

The images, part of Ansel Adams: The Mural Project 1941-1942, have been installed on the first and second floors of the department as originally envisioned by the artist and then-Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes.

Secretary Ickes and Mr. Adams first met in 1936 while attending a conference on the future of national and state parks. The two immediately found a common bond in a deep love for the beauty of America.

In fact, Mr. Adams used his photographic talent to lead a successful campaign to save the Kings River area of the Sierra Nevada from development and have Congress designate it as Kings Canyon National Park.

Secretary Ickes believed that the Interior building, which was completed in 1936, should be symbolic of the department’s mission to manage and conserve the nation’s vast resources. So in 1941, he hired Mr. Adams to create a photographic mural for display in this building that reflected the department’s mission: the beautiful land, the proper development of our resources, and the people we serve.

The attack on Pearl Harbor and the nation’s entry into World War II brought the photographer to a stop not long after his work began. Nonetheless, he was able to take more than 200 photographs, which were eventually sent to the National Archives.

The U.S. Department of the Interior Museum exhibition Ansel Adams: The Mural Project 1941-1942 is open to the public by appointment only. Reservations for a guided tour should be made two weeks in advance by calling the Museum at 202-208-4743. Adult visitors must present photo identification.

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