Since 1993, Kolb Studio has offered a series of changing art exhibits, each illustrating the inspirational power of Grand Canyon.
The building itself has a storied history. Natives to Philadelphia, the Kolb brothers, Ellsworth and Emery, decided to make the Grand Canyon their home in 1902, 17 years before the establishment of Grand Canyon National Park. Avid photographers and river rafters, the Kolbs were the first to document a boat trip down the Colorado River with a movie camera. Their film “Floating Down the River,” was shown to park visitors from 1915 until 1956, making it the longest film shown in history. The 35mm projector used is available to view in the gift shop.
The Kolb brothers were passionate about photography, and the majority of their photos were sold to visitors meandering up the Bright Angel Trail on the backs of mules. To develop their film, Emery Kolb carried the negatives in glass plates in a backpack and ran down to the only available source for fresh water, four and a half miles down and four and a half miles back up to the studio perched on the rim of the Canyon. And Emery likely made the journey a couple times a day..
Today, Kolb Studio is open year-round. It contains an exhibit venue, bookstore, and information center operated by the Grand Canyon Association, a nonprofit organization. Proceeds from sales at the bookstore go toward the continuing restoration and care of the building. Fully remodeled in 2004 for the Kolb Studio Centennial, the bookstore now features a tribute to the Kolbs’ photography of mule riders at Grand Canyon.
From the Grand Canyon Tour Guide print publication