Since 2001, a total of 60 accomplished artists, writers, and composers have participated in the Artist-in-Residence program. Following a 10-day residency, each volunteers to lead a public outreach activity with visitors and to donate one piece of art to the program collection. For a two-year trial period beginning in 2016, the program will explore a preference for digital and performance-based donations rather than physical pieces for the program collection. Artists are challenged to create pieces for visitors that offer a fresh and innovative perspective of the park drawn from their own experience.
In recent years, the program has demonstrated a renewed commitment to providing expanded opportunities for artists, and for fostering greater interaction between artists and the visiting public. A new winter residency program was created, along with a new series of afternoon outreach activities throughout the summer in public areas outside the Denali Visitor Center. A first fine arts photographer was selected to participate as a visual artist in 2015. With the welcome addition of several new gallery spaces, more pieces in the program collection enjoy a larger life in the public eye.
With its current open call May 1 to Sept 30, 2015, the program will invite a new category of applications for an annual residency in music composition. The first selected composer will visit the park in 2016, and a composition that he or she donates is expected to be performed at the Denali Music Festival in 2017, as the park is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding as Mount McKinley National Park in 1917.