A visit to Yellowstone is incomplete without wildlife—and we’d argue it’s also incomplete without a jaunt down to the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
A few hours’ drive south through neighboring Grand Teton National Park, the National Museum of Wildlife Art is a real gem and (we’d argue) one of the finest museums in the Rocky Mountain region.
The National Wildlife Museum of Art opened May 16, 1987 in the town of Jackson, Wyoming by William and Joffa Kerr and their friends. Its first iteration was the Wildlife of the American West Museum. Initially calling Jackson Town Square home, the museum moved to its current location (on East Gros Ventre Butte across from the National Elk Refuge) in 1994.
The new location received a Wyoming Humanities Award in 1994 and was later honored in a Senate Bill signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 as the nation’s preeminent wildlife art museum.
The depth of the collection is astonishing. For instance, the museum has a number of Carl Rungius paintings from various points in his career. Rungius, as one of the 20th century’s preeminent wildlife artists, is a superb fit for the museum’s mission, especially since many of his most famous works concern wildlife in the Rocky Mountains. Below, for instance, is “Wind River Bugler,” painted in 1923 and currently on view at the museum.
The museum also honors Rungius by awarding the Carl Rungius Medal to outspoken individuals concerned with protecting and documenting wildlife and habitat. Previous awardees have included Clifford Hansen, Jane Goodall and Wallace Stegner.
In addition to Rungius, the museum also boasts works from Western luminaries such as George Catlin, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, along with biologists like John James Audubon. The collection also houses pieces from immortals such as Auguste Rodin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Henri Rousseau and Pablo Picasso.
The museum grounds are home to a sculpture trail designed by landscape architect Walter Hood. Opened in 2012, the trail includes many western favorites such as moose, bighorn sheep, bison, elk and eagles.
Visiting the Museum
As mentioned, the museum is conveniently located a few miles north of Jackson along U.S. 191, well within range of Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge. Parking generally shouldn’t be a worry. Ticket prices are available below. Please note that the pricing of children tickets is a little confusing:
• Adult: $14
• Senior (60+): $12
• First Child (6-18): $6
• Additional Children (6-18): $2 per ticket
• Children Five and Under: Free
Besides art, the museum is also home to a research library dedicated to wildlife biology, natural history, and art history.
The National Wildlife Museum of Art gift shop includes many wildlife-themed books, posters, clothing and other items.
Visitors are also invited to dine at the upscale Palate restaurant, which serves trendy bistro-style fare. Don’t worry though: the kids menu is straightforward and packed with favorites like chicken tenders and animal cookies.