TULSA, Oklahoma - Paintings that are part of a new exhibit at the Gilcrease Museum are more than just pretty. The artwork helped to save Bison in the U.S.

Albert Bierstadt was best known for his big dramatic landscapes like but on his trip to the West in 1859 his focus changed to the Plains Indians and the westward migration that had begun. He started adding people to his paintings.

"Critics in 1860 thought he was ruining the landscape by including people," said Laura Fry "He starts to change his subject matter."

So instead of people, he included animals particularly the bison that roamed the plains back then. But on a subsequent trip, he saw the rampant hunting and the decline in the number of bison herds.

He joined with Teddy Roosevelt and other conservationists in efforts to save the animals of the Western United States.

In 1888 he painted "The Last of the Buffalo" this painting was shown at the Paris World's Fair and was instrumental in forwarding a movement.

"It was one of several factors that helped inspire the Lacey Act of 1894. The first federal protection for wildlife in Yellowstone Park," said Fry.

The Albert Bierstadt exhibit is at the Gilcrease through early February.