Greatest Photographs of the American West

Photo: Men in a field with a storm approaching

Photograph by Jim Richardson

Photo: Aerial
Photograph by Frans Lanting

Throughout its 125-year history, National Geographic has published photographs of the American West that both support and defy romantic notions of the land and its peoples.

No single institution can assume credit for the diverse and complex associations that attach to the simple phrase, the “American West.” For its part, National Geographic has throughout its history steadily reported on the West and published images that form a sort of cultural commons for popular understanding of the region. Although not comprehensive in its editorial coverage, National Geographic consistently reminds of the importance of the region to human imagination.

Wide open spaces, spectacular rock formations, and the cowboy life are examined alongside struggles for limited natural resources, Native American cultural continuity, and new energy sources. The images shown in this exhibition, a small sample from the significant holdings of the National Geographic Archive, offer a broad understanding of a region that has long captivated photographers.

A companion book, “National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West: Capturing 125 years of Majesty, Spirit and Adventure. ”

Content: 75 photographs, labels, text panels

Size: 400 running square feet

Duration: minimum of 3 months

Speaker opportunities available

For more information or to book a traveling exhibit contact ngmuseumtravexh@ngs.org; please include name, company, and contact information.

Tour Schedule:

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Indianapolis, Indiana

Rockwell Museum of Western Art
Corning, New York

Booth Western Art Museum
Cartersville, Georgia

Buffalo Bill Historical Center
Cody, Wyoming

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Stark Museum of Art
Orange, Texas

Gilcrease Museum
Tulsa, Oklahoma

C.M. Russell Museum
Great Falls, Montana

National Museum of Wildlife Art
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
Pendleton, OR
August 22 – October 25, 2014

Berkshire Museum
Pittsfield, MA
September 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016

  • Picture of A Whalrus flicks its huge tusks
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