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Ashley Riggs, book cover from In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits. Photo by Robb Kendrick.

 

Ida Palmer and her baby, ca. 1921. Courtesy National Geographic.Portraits are, literally and figuratively, reflections of ourselves, and the memorable ones have a simple, yet profound universal appeal—as evocative to a teenage girl in Brooklyn as to an elderly Bushman in South Africa. Powerful portraits can reflect the continuity of human experience over time or emphasize the physical and cultural differences that distinguish human beings from one another. Such remarkable images reveal our deep-rooted connections to national identities, gender roles, cultural preferences, and our surroundings. They reveal the historical context of the moment while shedding light on larger world views that have been molded and recast over the centuries. An unforgettable portrait does all of these things, but most importantly, it echoes the spirit of the sitter.

Created by National Geographic and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, In Focus reveals that it is possible to portray the essence of people and places in two dimensions.

Installation view of In Focus in CaliforniaFor well over 100 years, the name National Geographic has been synonymous with compelling photography. In Focus brings together a rare collection of expressive portraits and scenes from around the world and here at home. This collection of outstanding images, shot from the early 20th century to the late 1990s, not only parallels the Society’s interest in the ethnographic study of “exotic” lands, but also reveals the magazine’s idealized view of domestic life in the United States during the Great Depression and World War II.

From Steve McCurry’s haunting image of the green-eyed Afghan girl to lesser known scenes of tribal leaders, fishermen, and American workers, In Focus takes viewers around the globe and through the heights and depths of human emotion.


March 18, 2010

Dear SITES,

On behalf of the Citadelle Art Foundation, I'd like to say
thank you for bringing the Smithsonian to our tiny town.
What a benefit to our community & surrounding area!

Sincerely,
Wendie Cook
Director/Curator
The Citadelle Art Foundation
Canadian, TX

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Contents 51 framed color and black-and-white photographs, text and graphic panels, labels
Supplemental

Companion book, educational and promotional resources

Participation Fee

$5,000 for 8-week booking period (plus outgoing shipping)

Size

300 running feet (90 running meters)

Crates 4
Weight

1,505 lbs (683 kg)

Category History & Culture
Security

Moderate

Shipping

Outgoing; host museum arranges shipping and pays carrier directly

SITES Contacts Ed Liskey, 202.633.3142 (Scheduling)
Deborah Macanic, 202.633.3101 (Content)
Tour Through

Extended until January 2011

   
 
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Tour Itinerary

   
Dates   Host Institution Status
11/5/05 1/1/06

1911 Old City Hall Arts and Humanities Center, Lake Charles, LA

Booked
1/21/06 4/16/06 University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA Booked
5/6/06 9/17/06 Utah Museum of Natural History, Salt Lake City, UT Booked
10/7/06 12/3/06 The Art League of Bonita Springs, Bonita Springs, FL Booked
12/23/06 2/18/07 Museum of History and Art, Ontario, Ontario, CA Booked
3/10/07 5/6/07 Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, KY Booked
5/26/07 7/22/07 Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, VA Booked
8/11/07 10/7/07 Durham Western Heritage Museum, Omaha, NE Booked
10/27/07 12/31/07 Hometown Perry, Iowa, Perry, IA Booked
1/19/08 3/16/08 William D. Cannon Art Gallery, Carlsbad, CA Booked
4/5/08 6/1/08 Littleton Historical Museum, Littleton, CO Booked
6/21/08 8/17/08 Spartanburg County Public Library, Spartanburg, SC Booked
9/6/08 11/2/08 Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, UT Booked
11/22/08 1/18/09 Orange County Regional History Center, Orlando, FL Booked
Extension Tour Dates      
4/25/09 6/21/09 World Foresty Center, Portland, OR Booked
7/11/09 11/22/09 California University of Pennsylvania, California, PA Booked
12/12/09 4/18/10 Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, Kennesaw, GA Booked
5/08/10 7/18/10 Duluth Art Institute, Duluth, MN Booked
8/7/10 10/10/10 The Citadelle Art Foundation, Canadian, TX Booked
10/30/10 1/2/11 Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI Booked
     
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Related Publications

In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits by Sam Abell, William Albert Allard, Jodi Cobb, Stuart Franklin, and David Alan Harvey, published in 2004, $30.00.

This book contains some of the greatest ethnographic and culturally significant portraits ever published. Some images date back to the 19th century, providing over a 100 year history of the Society's journey into photography and scientific study.
>>Order this publication

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Press Release

10.17.05

In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits

Portraits are, literally and figuratively, reflections of ourselves, and the memorable ones have a simple, yet profound universal appeal—as evocative to a teenage girl in Brooklyn, N.Y., as to an elderly Bushman in South Africa. Powerful portraits can reflect the continuity of human experience over time or emphasize the physical and cultural differences that distinguish human beings from one another.

In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits, an exhibition consisting of 56 striking color and black-and-white photographs, will premiere at the 1911 Old City Hall Arts and Humanities Center in Lake Charles, La., on Nov. 5 and remain on view through Jan. 1, 2006. The exhibition will continue on a national tour through 2008. Created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and National Geographic, the exhibition is organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

This exhibition showcases photographs from the book In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits, which was published in October 2004 as a sequel to the New York Times bestseller “Through the Lens: National Geographic Greatest Portraits.”

In Focus parallels National Geographic’s interest in ethnographic studies and reveals the magazine’s efforts to divert attention away from the hardships of domestic life during the Great Depression and World War II. From fascinating archival images of tribal leaders, fishermen and American workers, to riveting modern pictures of refugees, city dwellers and urban laborers, In Focus takes visitors around the globe and through the heights and depths of human emotion.

The exhibition highlights the work of some of National Geographic’s most celebrated photographers. National Geographic photographers have taken more pictures of people than of any other subject, indicating “a photographer’s desire to connect with people—to capture something consequential about another person,” wrote National Geographic magazine associate editor Chris Johns in his forward. “To capture the spirit and essence of other human beings is a challenge beyond measure, but when it happens and the photograph comes together, the creation brings joy.”

Invented in the 1800s, this lengthy photographic process requires that the subject commit time and energy, which makes for a deeper relationship between photographer and subject. In the process, the image becomes a collaboration between the two and has an intense intimacy in which the viewer is drawn.

Such remarkable images reveal deep-rooted connections to the environment, to national identities, to gender roles and to cultural preferences. They reveal the historical context of the moment while shedding light on larger world views that have been modeled and re-cast throughout the centuries. An unforgettable portrait does all these things, but, most importantly, it echoes the spirit of the sitter.

One of the world’s largest non-profit scientific and educational organizations, the National Geographic Society was founded in 1888 “for the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge.” Fulfilling this mission, the society educates and inspires millions every day through its magazines, books, television programs, videos, maps and atlases, research grants, the National Geographic Bee, teacher workshops and innovative classroom materials.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.

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