This state parks centennial year has set the stage for residents and other outdoor enthusiasts to look back at 100 years of history and highlight many of these outdoor destinations through several lenses: historical anecdotes, campfire storytelling, an interactive memory map, bird’s-eye-view videos, ambient nature sounds (Pure Sounds), Happy Little Trees planting program and, now, paintbrush and canvas.

“Paint the Parks” is an artistic interpretation of Michigan’s vast state parks system – from Tahquamenon Falls to Holland to Belle Isle and more – as showcased through original artwork of the Great Lakes Plein Air Painters Association. The group’s “open air” style of painting is an art form created by French Impressionists that encourages the practice of painting or drawing of landscapes outside the walls of a studio.

Over the last year, several painters set up easels in state parks, capturing the colors, the majesty, the nature and the history of these beautiful outdoor spaces. The “Paint the Parks” exhibit includes nearly 70 paintings, and people can experience it in two ways:

In an online gallery, highlighting different regions of the state, including the Upper, Northern Lower, Central Lower and Southern Lower peninsulas.

Up close and in person at an exhibit at the Michigan History Center, 702 W. Kalamazoo St. in downtown Lansing through Nov. 22.

“Painting nature has long been a mainstay of artists,” said Maia Turek, DNR parks and recreation engagement development specialist. “Our department partnered with the Great Lakes Plein Air Painters Association to highlight the spirit and allure of these special places in a whole new way.”

All original artwork is for sale through the online gallery, with 25 percent of proceeds going to support historic interpretation in state parks.

Learn more about “Paint the Parks” and the Michigan state parks centennial at