Greatest Photographs of the American West

William Albert Allard, American Indian beauty pageant winner, Oregon, 1997

January 18 – April 21, 2020

  • Family-friendly
  • Free for Members
  • Researchers
  • Teachers
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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Featuring 75 iconic and rare photographs, National Geographic’s Greatest Photographs of the American West chronicles the epic history and grandeur of the region. National Geographic magazine published the earliest photographs of the American West in 1889, setting the stage for the breathtaking images captured by such photographic masters as William Albert Allard, David Alan Harvey, and Joel Sartore. In addition to these world-renowned photographers, the exhibit also features images by early photographers like Edward S. Curtis and William Henry Jackson.

Greatest Photographs of the American West is a visual journey through the history of America. Each image captures a different aspect of the American West and its importance to our national identity. Visitors will see portrayals of some of the cowboys, Native Americans, and landscapes that define the vast area. They will also see photographs displaying the interactions among the people of the West, visitors, and wildlife. The awe-inspiring images include endless skies, boundless plains, and dramatic mountains. The exhibition explores the growth of the American West and contemplates where its story may go in the future.

The images included in the exhibition derive from the National Geographic book, National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West: Capturing 125 Years of Majesty, Spirit and Adventure.

“This book and the exhibit that it accompanies give a small hint of the scope and significance of the National Geographic holdings,” says James McNutt, former president and CEO of the National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States, who writes the forward for the book. “From that it is only possible to guess at the impact of millions of such images disseminated through National Geographic magazine and other media. What happens to the West in the future may not result directly from National Geographic photographs — but then again, it may.”

About the National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling, and education. The Society aspires to create a community of change, advancing key insights about the planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time, all while ensuring that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. Its goal is measurable impact: furthering exploration and educating people around the world to inspire solutions for the greater good.