Magnificent Western Art? Don’t Doubt the National Geographic Archives

“National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West”, one of the most awe-inspiring small collections of photography depicting the US ever assembled, has taken hold of the Lincoln Wing (as I like to call it) at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. It will likely take your breath away as well.

The museum, one of ten in the nation to feature the exhibit based on the extensive National Geographic archives, held an advanced opening, free to the public to kick off the nine week show. (October 27-January 6, 2013)

“National Geographic has been a respected source of intriguing photojournalism for generations,” said Chuck Schroeder, Museum President. “We are pleased to partner with our Museums West colleagues in bringing this wonderful exhibit on America’s West to Oklahoma City, knowing it will enlighten and entertain a broad variety of our visitors.”

Schroeder mingled in the crowd of approximately 250 enthusiasts, amazed at the power and connection the audience displayed while touring the exhibit of  the 175 photograph reproductions culled from the magazine’s collection, dating back 125 years.

“Their renowned photographers have captured images of people and places around the globe,” Schroeder said. “Leading to greater knowledge and understanding among many cultures.”

Relating to what each of us has experienced in the pages National Geographic over the years (and through their video and television images as well), it may be easy to overlook or underestimate how much we have learned about our own country from the publication.

 One of the alluring forces of the exhibit and the accompanying book, is that there are equal parts “I remember that!” and “Oh my God! Look!” throughout the exhibit. Easily covered in a few minutes but more properly consumed in an hour or two, the show is accessible as part of an admission to the museum.

The book, available for a surprisingly low $30 at the gift shop or through the National Geographic web-site below, features every image displayed in the OKC show including rarely published and never before seen photos depicting the majesty of the American west through many of history’s greatest photographers then and now, including icon Ansel Adams, diverse contemporaries such as Jonathan S. Blair and Martha Cooper, as well as early pioneers of American photography such as William Henry Jackson. Jackson’s stunning and heart stopping 1873 stereographic image is the oldest in the exhibition. According to National Geo, “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.”

An impressive interactive website from the magazine can be found here or at http://www.photographsofthewest.org . you can find out more about the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum by visiting their web-site at http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org .

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is one of my particular favorites in the US, located conveniently off I-40 and I-35 in  Oklahoma City’s Adventure District. http://www.okcadventure.com

Bloggers note: Some quotations were supplied via press release from the museum. I did attend the exhibit and experience it myself and highly recommend it for all ages. 

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