Photographers Go to Extremes to Create Images in National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West June 14, 2012  |  Categories: National Geographic

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – June 14, 2012 – The oldest photograph in the “National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West” exhibition – set to open simultaneously in 10 U.S. museums on October 27, 2012 – 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 75 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 10 U.S. museums opening the show on October 27 from New York to Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Texas to Washington, D.C., include the National Geographic Museum plus nine members of Museums West, a coalition of North American museums organized for the purpose of developing and expanding an awareness and appreciation of the American West.

A companion book, “National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West: Capturing 125 Years of Majesty, Spirit and Adventure” (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-0956-1; on sale Oct. 10, 2012; trade paperback; $30), features 175 photographs, including rarely published and never-before-seen images and will be available at the museums and online from National Geographic Books.

“The National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West” exhibition was organized by the National Museum of Wildlife Art in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and Museums West, presented by The Mays Family Foundation. For additional information visit

Image Credit: Northern Spotted Owl, California, 2009

A member of the Museums West consortium and accredited by the American Association of Museums, the museum, officially designated the National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States by an act of Congress in 2008, provides an exciting calendar of exhibitions from its permanent collection and changing exhibitions from around the globe.  A complete schedule of exhibitions and events is available online at  The museum is also active on Facebook at wildlifeartjh and on Twitter at @wildlifeartjh.

Media Contacts: Darla Worden, WordenGroup Strategic Public Relations, 307.734.5335,; Ponteir Sackrey, National Museum of Wildlife Art, 307.732.5444,