Tahoe Today – An Altered Landscape

This theme comprises one section of the museum-wide exhibition, Tahoe: A Visual History.

Lake Tahoe experienced rapid growth after World War II. Residential populations at the lake grew steadily, and with the rise of the ski industry and other recreation businesses, the number of visitors to the lake skyrocketed. Growth and development in the region reached a tipping point in the 1950s and 1960s, as plans for high-rise casinos, shoreline freeways, sprawling ski resorts, landfill marinas, and a four-lane concrete bridge across Emerald Bay gained forward momentum.

In 1957, a gathering of concerned conservationists formed what became known as The League to Save Lake Tahoe. They coined the iconic tagline, “Keep Tahoe Blue,” a conservationist slogan that remains popular to this day. The attitude that unchecked growth at the lake was a foregone conclusion precipitated local resistance, and ultimately led to a unique bi-state agreement governing planning and management of the lake and its resources.

Today millions of people visit the Tahoe/Donner region annually and nearly 50,000 people call it their permanent home. In the twenty-first century, one’s experience of Tahoe is sure to be mediated by commercial enterprise, advertising, and limited access to much of the lake’s privately-owned shore. Contemporary artists and architects invite us to look carefully at how this human presence impacts the fragile Lake Tahoe basin.

Michael Light, Highway 89, Cascade and Emerald Lakes and Mount Tallac Beyond, Looking Southwest, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 2014, Pigment print on Hahnemühle, 40 x 50 inches, Collection of the Nevada Museum of Art, The Altered Landscape, Carol Franc Buck Collection


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