Grand Canyon National Park, a free government service

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Artist Statement


Shortly into his presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps, focused both on providing jobs to unemployed Americans and helping a young National Park Service preserve and upgrade the national parks. The Works Progress Administration—another group formed in FDR’s New Deal—offered the services of their artists to spread the word that the parks were ready for visitors. Between 1938 and 1941, the WPA designed 14 silkscreened promotional posters. Of those 14 original designs, only 12 have been recovered—including this pastel Grand Canyon poster.

The Grand Canyon was officially designated a national park in 1919, though it had been well-known to Americans for over thirty years prior. Since its official opening, it has become the second most popular national park in the U.S. with nearly six million visitors in 2016. Its popularity is no surprise—the Grand Canyon often leaves its visitors astounded. When President Theodore Roosevelt came to the site in 1903, he said: "The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."


Vintage Editions | See All Editions


For our Vintage Editions series, our curators scour historical archives for both timeless classics and heretofore unseen gems. These images come back to life as exhibition-quality prints now available to everyone. As a bonus, purchasing equals patronage: sales from Vintage Edition prints go towards supporting our growing roster of artists.