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National Park Service
US Department of the Interior

National Fossil Day 2015: Art and Photography Contest

"Postcards from the Past"

NFD Sketch
Submit your National Fossil Day artwork or photograph to the 2015 contest.

About the Contest

The theme for this year's National Fossil Day Art and Photography Contest is Postcards from the Past.

Imagine you just received a postcard from a fossil living in an ancient environment. What might that fossil tell you about its day or its surroundings? How would the picture on the postcard compare to what we see on the earth today?

Rocks and fossils contain clues of what ancient landscapes looked like and how ancient life lived. Use your creative skills as a paleontologist and as an artist to imagine what your Postcard from the Past might look like.

Click here to download the art contest entry form. Entries must be received by October 7th, 2015.

Contest Guidelines

Who can enter?

The contest is open to any U.S. resident of any age. Entries will be judged by a panel consisting of National Fossil Day partners and paleontologists.

What should my artwork include?

Your artwork or photograph should focus on the contest theme "Postcards from the Past". Use the information above and the questions below to get started!

The artwork can be in the form of a sketch, painting, watercolor, photograph (black/white or color), or computer-generated image. All artwork must be 2D (two dimensional) and flat.

Be sure to include a sentence or two on your submission form explaining from who/when/where the postcard was sent.

Questions to help you get started...

  • What image would appear on a postcard that was sent from an ancient environment?
  • What kind of message would a fossil write to you?
  • Would the fossil be writing to you from underwater? From a desert? Somewhere else?
  • Could the stamp and paleo-postal information offer more clues about when or from where your postcard was sent?
  • How would the environment and fossils change if a postcard was sent from the same place, but from many different time periods?

How large should the artwork be?

All artwork should be able to fit inside a 13"x 17" envelope or smaller, or if submitting a digital photograph, the image should be no larger than 5 Mb.

What do I need to submit?

A valid submission will contain the following information:

  1. An original copy of the artwork. Each piece must be original, authentic, unpublished, the sole property of the entrant, and not previously submitted in any other contest. Make sure to include a sentence or two on your submission form (or on your artwork) explaining from who/when/where the postcard was sent.
  2. Your personal information, printed on either the back of your artwork or on a separate sheet attached to your artwork:

    First and last name (as it appears on your entry form)
    Mailing address
    Phone number
    E-mail address

  3. A completed and signed entry form. Print out the entry form here and send it to us when you send your artwork. Entries cannot be accepted without a signed entry form (if under 18, a parent, guardian, or teacher must sign).
  4. Optional - If you would like to submit a digital photograph, send your personal information, along with your attached photo to with the subject line: NFD 2015 PHOTO CONTEST. You must also mail in a signed entry form.
  5. All mailed artwork and entry forms must be sent to:

    National Fossil Day 2015 Art Contest
    American Geosciences Institute
    4220 King Street
    Alexandria, VA 22302-1502

If you have any problems or questions regarding the art contest, please contact the National Fossil Day staff at

When is the deadline?

All submissions must be postmarked by 5 p.m. EST, Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 (one week BEFORE National Fossil Day). Entries postmarked later will not be eligible. Entries cannot be returned. American Geosciences Institute cannot confirm receipt of entries.

How will the artwork be judged?

The artwork will be judged by a panel on originality, creativity, quality and, most importantly, relevance to the topic. Submissions will be separated into and judged based upon the following age groups:

  • 8 years old or younger
  • 9 to 13 years old
  • 14 to 18 years old
  • 19 years old or above

Winning Art and Photographs?

The winning artworks and photographs for each category will appear on the National Fossil Day website starting on or after October 14th, 2015. Check the National Fossil Day website to see if your artwork has been selected! To see last year's winners, click here.

If you have any problems or questions regarding the art contest, please contact the National Fossil Day staff at We look forward to your feedback!

Disclaimer: By submitting an entry, the entrant agrees to allow the National Park Service to use his or her name to post on the NPS's National Fossil Day Web site, without compensation unless prohibited. All entries and all rights of ownership in and to the entries, including all rights to use, reproduce, publish, modify, edit, and distribute the same will become the exclusive property of NPS and will not be returned. NPS reserves the right to edit, modify, copyright, publish, use, and reproduce any and all entries without further compensation. The National Park Service, its agents and contractor, are not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, incomplete, or postage-due entries. Contest void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Last updated: March 17, 2015