Exhibit captures ‘Denizens’ of 19th century wildlife
Prints currently showing at the Park City Museum
‘Denizens: Wildlife on the Western Frontier’
- When: Through Jan. 7, 2024
- Where: Park City Museum, 528 Main St.
- Web: parkcityhistory.org
The display, in the Tozier Gallery, showcases a series of prints depicting fauna that were abundant on the Great Plains and in the Rocky Mountains in the 1800s, said Courtney Titus, curator of collections and exhibits.
“Most of the prints are from that era, and there are some that are from a bit earlier,” she said. “All the prints were featured in publications — magazines, newspapers and journals — of that time period.”
Some of those periodicals include Harper’s Weekly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and The Illustrated London News, and notable artists represented in the exhibit include Frederic Remington, George Catlin and Alfred Jacob Miller, Titus said.
“This exhibit is from the Lee Silliman Print Collection, and he gathered the images from the pages of these publications,” she said. “Lee also compiled quotes and writings from travelers, naturalists and journalists at that time who described these scenes and animals.”
The initial goal of these images in the publications was to show people back East what the wildlife and terrain was like in the West.
“It was the way people were getting their information about the Western frontier,” Titus said. “These images were for people who weren’t here to see these animals in person, and the photos were a way for them to get a sense of what the landscape looked like.”
The prints feature all kinds of animals.
“We have moose, wolverines, eagles, antelope, mountain goats, coyotes, mountain lions, big-horned sheep, bison, rattlesnakes and grizzly bears, to name a few,” Titus said.
Some of these animals are accurately depicted, while others, not so much, she said.
“The images depict animals in their natural habitats, either alone or with other animals,” Titus said. “Some of these prints also show the encounters that people had with these animals. Most often those encounters were of people hunting the animals, but some also show animals attacking people.”
The prints in the exhibit were created with steel engravings, wood engravings and lithographs, the three main techniques used for print publishing of the time, according to Titus.
Some are hand colored, and others were colored through the chromolithograph process, which uses chemicals to color the prints, she said.
“Denizens: Wildlife on the Western Frontier” is the second exhibit by Silliman the Park City Museum has shown.
The first was “Viewed from Afar: European Prints of the American Frontier West, 1759-1908,” which ran during the summer of 2022, Titus said.
“Lee has a full selection of different exhibits that are available, and while we showed ‘View from Afar’ first, I had known that this one existed,” she said. “We knew we wanted to bring this in at some point, and there are others that he has that we’re looking at, as well.”
These exhibits feature content of a time period that fits well with the goal of the museum, Titus said.
The museum’s mission is to “preserve, protect and promote Park City’s history and heritage,” which also means to highlight the surrounding environment, she said.
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