Archive for April, 2010

Grand Canyon: Kolb Studio

April 20, 2010

My book Arizona Museums: A Journey Into Arizona’s Memory has been designated as an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project. In this excerpt, the visitor will take a trip to the grand Canyon and visit the Kolb Studio Museum

            Nearly two decades before the creation of Grand Canyon National Park, two reckless brothers, Ellsworth and Emery Kolb wandered into the canyon. In 1904, the Kolb brothers began construction on this rambling, Victorian era building which has been restored to its original condition. It is not hard to believe that this haphazard structure jutting over the canyon was built without plans. A look outside gives visitors the feeling that they just might slide down the Bright Angel Trail. The Kolb brothers decided to earn their living by photographing tourists descending at Bright Angel trailhead.  By the time the tourists returned, the Kolb’s had photographs waiting for them. The Kolbs received worldwide attention when they filmed their 1911 trip down the Colorado River and delivered moving pictures of the Grand Canyon to awe-struck theater goers in 1912.. By 1915, their studio was a three-story structure which included living quarters for two families and a showroom for their prints. In their final addition in 1925 they converted the showroom into an auditorium to show their river trip movie, and added a new darkroom and lab space. Kolb Studio was now five stories and twenty-three rooms, teetering precariously over the canyon floor. Only the upper floor bookstore and second floor auditorium are open to visitors. Canyon-related art exhibits in the auditorium at Kolb Studio change every few weeks. Rangers conduct tours of portions of the living quarters during the winter.