National Geographic Opens Its Vaults : The Picture Show By Claire O'NeillThe magazine has been around for a long time. Since 1888, actually — way back when photography was still in its infancy. As the medium continued to improve, so did photojournalism, resulting in the cachet of that little yellow ...
NPR logo National Geographic Opens Its Vaults

National Geographic Opens Its Vaults

The Dome Room, Carlsbad Cavern National Monument, New Mexico, 1924. (Ray V. Davis/National Geographic Society/Steven Kasher Gallery) hide caption

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The magazine has been around for a long time. Since 1888, actually — way back when photography was still in its infancy. As the medium continued to improve, so did photojournalism, resulting in the cachet of that little yellow rectangle. Perhaps National Geographic is feeling wistful in its old age: It has recently decided to not only dust off some treasures from its vaults but also — for the first time — offer a limited series of photographs and illustrations for purchase.

New York's Steven Kasher Gallery will be hosting an exhibition of the prints, titled "The World in Black and White: Vintage Prints from the National Geographic Archive." It is the first of four exhibitions coordinated by National Geographic and Steven Kasher Gallery, in an attempt to share the archival history contained in National Geographic's Image Collection — a reservoir of over 10 million photographs, of which fewer than 2 percent have been published.

Iron Hoop Cave, 2009. (Stephen Alvarez/National Geographic) hide caption

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For one month beginning Thursday, 150 unique black-and-whites by more than a dozen photographers from the society's earliest days will be on display. There are photographs of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica (a conquest for the British Empire ending in the death of an entire crew). A photograph of Carlsbad Cavern National Monument in New Mexico, taken in 1924, shows the early days of cave photography continued today by National Geographic photographers like Stephen Alvarez. Photographs from all over the world illustrate a congenital dedication to exploration and discovery.

This initial exhibition is merely a preview of the National Geographic Society's vast reserves. Stay tuned for more exhibitions in the coming year.

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