Ansel Adams, Lower Paradise Valley, 1927

Ansel Adams (1902-1984), Lower Paradise Valley, from Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, 1927, gelatin silver print. Middlebury College Museum of Art. Purchase with funds provided by the Christian A. Johnson Memorial Art Acquisition Fund and the Walter Cerf Art Fund, 2016.001.17. Reproduced with permission from The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. All rights reserved.

Ansel Adams’ Lower Paradise Valley was taken in what is now Kings Canyon National Park. In 1927, when he included this photograph in his Parmelian Prints series, the area was not under federal protection. In the later 1930s, when Adams and David Brower, later Executive Director of the Sierra Club, led the campaign to create a national park, Adams used his photographs to raise public awareness about this beautiful region.

In 1938 Adams brought out a limited edition book entitled Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. A portfolio of prints made their way to the White House. After energetic lobbying by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, in 1940 Kings Canyon National Park became a reality. Together with neighboring Sequoia National Park, in 1976 these locales were designated the UNESCO Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve.

Exhibition guest curator and art history professor Kirsten Hoving discusses the publication of Adams’ Parmelian prints: