Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Art History

Committee Chair

Rhonda Reymond

Committee Co-Chair

Kristina Olson

Committee Member

Megan Leight

Committee Member

Hana Szczepanowska


This thesis analyzes the impact of artists Sydney Laurence (1856- 1940), Belmore Browne (1880- 1954), and Olaus Murie (1889- 1963) and the contribution that their artwork had to the conservation of United States public lands. This thesis examines the conservation initiatives that were brought into effect during the early 1900s, the personal motivations of these artists to preserve the land, and the interactions between these artists and the United States government which demonstrates their involvement in land preservation. The impact that the artists had on tourism which extended the conservation movement is also addressed. Artworks created by Laurence, Browne, and Murie are examined and evaluated for their aesthetic impact and their contribution to environmental, geographical, and biological knowledge of the habitats and wildlife that were largely unknown to the United States government. The analysis of governmental documents and legislation, the lobbying efforts of activist organizations, and government official’s reception of the artwork of Laurence, Browne, and Murie that is presented in this thesis proves the impact of these artists. The paintings of Sydney Laurence and the paintings and field sketches of Belmore Browne and Olaus Murie aided in the preservation of millions of acres of land in the Northwest region of the United States.

The research presented here is important in that it recognizes the artistic contributions of these artists in the context of the American conservation movement and adds to the available scholarship on Sydney Laurence, who is largely unknown outside of Alaska.

Embargo Reason

Publication Pending

Available for download on Tuesday, April 25, 2023