Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Eclectic art displayed at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite

The Ahwahnee's outstanding location in Yosemite
Among the must-see icons of YosemiteNational Park, which is known for its unbelievably picturesque landscapes including mountains, waterfalls, and giant trees, is The Ahwahnee Hotel. The original accommodation in the park (after Curry Campsite) was an apt place to attract wealthy potential investors as well as visitors looking for a luxurious experience in a rustic park.

Besides the scenery of Yosemite Valley surrounding this National Historic Landmark, The Ahwahnee also boasts an amazing art collection that complements the architecture of the hotel. Art Deco, North American, Middle Eastern, and arts and crafts influences combine seamlessly within the interior of this grand hotel. Effects can be seen in stenciling, woodwork, light fixtures, china patterns, and wall hangings.

The Ahwahnee displays one of the greatest Persian rug collections in the world. Geometric patterns found in kilims, soumaks, kalamkars and other Middle Eastern rugs blend in seamlessly with the unmistakable design motifs inspired by Native American patterns.

The hotel’s original decorators, Dr. Phyllis Ackerman and Dr. Arthur Upham Pope, were experts in Persian arts and selected a variety of Persian rugs for the hotel’s public spaces since there wasn’t enough time before the grand opening to have Navajo rugs created. The Ahwahnee required fifty-nine rugs in total at opening and they were purchased in New York in 1927, ranging in price from 48.75 to $93.75 for a total of $5659. Today, many of the original rugs (or remnants of fragile pieces) are displayed mounted on the walls in the hotel’s public spaces.

The Great Lounge
A favorite gathering place, the Great Lounge features large fireplaces at either end of its 77-foot length. Ten floor-to-ceiling windows with original hand-stained glass filter light from the outside. Hand-woven North American baskets provide a decorative display, and wrought-iron chandeliers complement the eclectic design. In the Mural room one wall is covered with depictions of flora and fauna in Yosemite while a shiny copper-hooded fireplace brightens up the space.

Intricate stained-glass designs top 10 windows in the Great Lounge.
Throughout the 99 rooms, parlors, and suites of the hotel impressive art surrounds the visitor. Yet, for me, the greatest art is what nature has created outside, and this is not neglected. Trails to walk and chairs to relax with a view of Yosemite Falls and more entice patrons to spend time appreciating the beauty of the location.

Part of the mural wall depicting nature in Yosemite
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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