In 1941, Ansel Adams was commissioned for a special project. Harold Ickes, secretary of the interior at the time (i.e., the federal department responsible for the management of federal land), asked the photographer to produce large-format murals of areas controlled by the department.
Canyon de Chelly, Ariz.
Glacier National Park, Mont.
Leaves in Glacier National Park, Mont.
Ferns in Glacier National Park, Mont.
Grand Teton, Snake River, Wyo.
Big Bird Peak, Deadman Canyon, Kings Canyon National Park, Calif.
Walpi, Ariz., 1941
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.
Formations along the Wall of the Big Room, Near Crystal SpringCarlsbad Caverns National Park, N.M.
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The project was cut short with the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Adams' 200-plus photographs were shelved and forgotten. Now, almost 70 years later, the Department of the Interior has resurrected these murals in a 26-print exhibition in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, you'll have to make a reservation to see these big prints of the American West in person. But fortunately you can take a peek here! See more on the DOI Web site.