Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, opens "National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West"

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“National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West,” a collection of iconic western images gathered by National Geographic over a span of 125 years, opened in 10 western museums, including the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, on October 27, 2012.

Buffalo Bill Historical Center-National Geographic

Rodeo, Nebraska, 1998. Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock

...some images are definitely of the breath-taking variety; others command little more than a long sigh.

From the Oklahoma Land Rush to Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, the visitor to this extraordinary exhibition at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, can't help but gasp at the one-of-a-kind shots. Indeed, the sights, smells, and noises captured by the photographer's lens can have that effect on a person. The dust swirls; the sun bakes; the water roars; the stars twinkle; the wind blows; and the fires blaze: It's the West all right.

Covering a span of 125 years, National Geographic's"greatest" picks include valleys and mountains, people and animals, rural areas and sprawling cities, along with dams, reservoirs, cliffs, and caves. One can't help but notice that a certain amount of daring was needed to seize some of the more breath-taking shots.

The names are a "who's who" of photography: Ansel Adams, William Henry Jackson, Edward S. Curtis, the Kolb brothers, and many more. While some images are definitely of the breath-taking variety; others command little more than a long sigh. As Adams put it, "When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence."

The massive opening simultaneously at 10 separate museums across America is unprecedented. The display remains on exhibit at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center through August 11, 2012.

Audiences can also connect with the exhibition at the following museums: Booth Western Art Museum (Cartersville, Georgia), Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (Indianapolis, Indiana), Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa, Oklahoma), National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), National Geographic Museum (Washington, D.C.), National Museum of Wildlife Art (Jackson Hole, Wyoming), Rockwell Museum of Western Art (Corning, New York), C.M. Russell Museum (Great Falls, Montana), and Stark Museum of Art (Orange, Texas).

The companion book to the exhibition, "National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West: Capturing 125 Years of Majesty, Spirit and Adventure," is available at each venue.

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

Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and the nature of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is now operating its late fall schedule, open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For general information, call 307.587.4771 or visit the Center's Web site.

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Marguerite House

Mindy Besaw
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