Superior National Forest Celebrates Smokey Bear’s 80th Birthday by Hosting Historical Paintings by Rudolph Wendelin

Release Date: 

Contact(s): Christine Kolinski, Public Affairs Specialist, Nicholas Petrack, Fire Management Officer

Paintings will be available to view at three offices across the Superior in March

Duluth, Minn., – February 16, 2024 – In celebration of Smokey Bear’s 80th Birthday, the Superior National Forest will kick start the celebration next month by hosting 19 historical paintings by Rudolph (Rudy) Wendelin of Smokey Bear. The Superior NF is one of just 14 National Forests and Grasslands in the Nation to host the painting collection during the 2024 birthday celebration event. (Go to for details of national campaign.)

All public are invited to view the collection at three of the Superior NF locations March 19-25. The Special Art Shows will include Forest Service staff, art presentations, and special appearances by Smokey Bear with commemorative memorabilia. For additional details check the Facebook page and websites for the Superior NF and Smokey Bear:

On loan from the USDA National Agricultural Library, these paintings were completed from 1977 through 1995 and remain the most famous depictions of Smokey Bear. Painter Rudy Wendelin worked for the Forest Service as an illustrator beginning in 1933 and was the mastermind behind Smokey’s human-like appearance in his signature ranger hat and blue jeans. Thanks to Wendelin’s art, Smokey’s message “Only YOU can prevent wildfires” has prevailed through the generations. Bring the whole family to see these historical paintings and possibly Smokey Bear in person at a National Forest near you!

For larger tours, please contact the corresponding office to arrange. In the event that the collection delivery is delayed, adjusted details on art viewing will be sent out.

  • Supervisor’s Office: 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808-(218) 626-4300. The artwork will be on display here from March 19-21, 2024.
    • The office is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 4:00 p.m. for viewing.
    • A Special art show on Wednesday, March 20 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm.
    • Gunflint District Office: 2020 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604-(218) 387-1750. The collection will be on display here from March 22-25 during normal business hours.
    • The office is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for viewing.
    • A Special art show on Friday, March 22 from 4:00 -6:00 p.m.
    • Kawishiwi District Office: 1393 Highway 169, Ely, MN 55731 (218) 365-7600. The final stop of the collection on the Superior will be at the Kawishiwi District Office from March 26-29.
    • Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for viewing.
    • A special art show will also showcase the collection on Thursday, March 28 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.