National Museum of Wildlife Art

Jackson, Wyoming, USA

The natural contours of the site are seamlessly linked with the museum and its contents.

 The National Museum of Wildlife Art is located on a dramatic 70-acre site on East Gros Ventre Butte in Jackson, Wyoming.  It offers visitors the rare opportunity to both view wildlife in its natural habitat as well as depicted in artwork.  

Fentress Architects’ goal was to link the natural contours of the site with both the museum building and its contents. Therefore, the building appears to grow naturally from the hillside, just as the many natural rock outcroppings extrude from the butte on which the museum sits. The carefully planned road allows the structure to reveal itself as visitors move around it.

Upon arrival, visitors see only a rock wall leading to a simple entry.  The stone building blends into the native terrain, reflecting the natural beauty of the area.  Meanwhile, on the building’s interior resides the nation’s premier fine art collection of North American wildlife and wildlife-related collections.

Once inside, animal tracks on the floor lead visitors through the canyon-like lobby.  An opening in the lobby offers framed views of the refuge beyond, and visitors can ascend the staircase for a complete 360-degree view of the space. 

Award-Winning Design

  • Honor Award, AIA Denver, 1996
  • Honorable Mention, AIA Colorado, 1996
  • Merit Award, AIA Western Mountain, 1996
  • People’s Choice Award of Distinction, AIA Denver, 1996
  • People’s Choice Award of Distinction, AIA Denver, 1995
  • Honor Award, American Council of Engineering Companies, 1995
  • Grand Award, Gold Nugget Awards, Pacific Coast Builders Conference, 1995
  • First Place, Design Competition, 1991

Sustainable by Design

Fentress Architects balanced the building’s strong contextual aesthetic with practicality by setting it into the hill.  In fact, the design reduces exterior wall exposure by nearly 50-percent over a same sized building above grade.  While the west elevation is completely earth sheltered, the north and east elevations are only partially sheltered. Galleries were located along the protected west wall to take advantage of temperature load stabilization, which helps maintain stringent requirements for temperature and humidity control.