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.





From the surprising photograph of an owl caught in flight by Mike Nichols, which required ridiculous amounts of equipment, time and thousands of missed attempts to create that one remarkable image, to the hair-raising aerial maneuvers used by others to capture fresh perspectives on the Western landscape, this new exhibition demonstrates photographers pushing all kinds of limits to bridge the gap between documentary and fine art photography.

At the same time the 175 images chosen from the thousands in the National Geographic archives provide a powerful and nuanced real-time portrait of the American West over more than a century..


The National Geographic archive spans over centuries documenting what made America grow to what it is today.”

Rich Clarkson


Come join us at one our participating museums in the Museums West consortium. Come visit today!



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