The National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with President Jim McNutt first thought of the gallery concept as a way to open the “vault” on rare and amazing National Geographics photographs of the West.
With the help of former Director of Photography, Rich Clarkson, the collection was carefully handpicked to form an unprecedented group of images with a photo book and gallery opening in 10 Museums West venues, a partnership of Western Museums of North America.
The oldest photograph in the exhibition is an 1873 stereographic image by William Henry Jackson. Jackson endured much to get that first-ever shot of Colorado’s Mountain of the Holy Cross, including hauling hundreds of pounds of equipment up a 1,500-foot final ascent and waiting for snowmelt to wash glass plates.
But the idea of going to extremes – even risking life and limb – to make that perfect image carries through all 125 years of iconic photography on display in this new photography exhibition, capturing the Western U.S. through the lenses of 75 different photographers.