Paintings in the DAM's Collection Showcase Areas Protected by the Wilderness Act

Paintings in the DAM's Collection Showcase Areas Protected by the Wilderness Act

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Some of the historic landscapes protected by this act are celebrated in the Denver Art Museum’s western art collection.

The Wilderness Act, signed into law on September 3, 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson, established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the benefit of the American people. Over the past 50 years another 100 million acres have been added to the system. The act defines “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” (Source:

Colorado has more than 3.5 million acres of designated wilderness including Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount of the Holy Cross, Mount Evans, and Mount Bierstadt.

Some of these protected areas can be seen in paintings on level seven of the North Building. Enjoy Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park in Moraine Park by Charles Partridge Adams, Estes Park by Albert Bierstadt, and Longs Peak, Colorado, by Sanford Robinson Gifford.

The Mount Evans and Bergen Park Wilderness areas are represented in Albert Bierstadt’s Mountain Lake (shown above) and in Worthington Whittredge’s Into the Rockies, Bergen Park, Colorado.

We are so fortunate to have these lands protected and to be able to see them in the same way as did the artists of the nineteenth century.

Image credit: Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830–1902), Mountain Lake, 1863. Oil paint on paper on panel. Gift of HRH Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, 2012.278.

Evelyn Waldron is the bookkeeper in The Shops at the Denver Art Museum. Evelyn has been at the DAM since 2007 and her favorite collection is western American art. Evelyn has a master of arts degree in western American history.