The Pervasive View | Vintage Prints from the National Geographic Image Collection

1 May - 5 June 2010

Exhibition dates: May 1 – June 5, 2010

Reception: May 1, 2-5pm


Stephen Bulger Gallery is proud to present the first international exhibition and sale of vintage prints from the Image Collection at the National Geographic Society. The exhibition will feature approximately 80 unique vintage black and white prints representing the earliest days of the Society (founded in 1888) through the 1940s. It will present a selection of premier examples of the most aesthetically and historically significant prints in the collection.


The Pervasive View: Vintage Prints from the National Geographic Image Collection is comprised of sets of photographic prints by over a dozen photographers associated with the Society. The exhibition will include images from Canada and from around the world and from several genres, including exploration, discovery, anthropology, aeronautics, and portraiture. Many of these images have never been published. Many have never been seen outside the National Geographic Image Collection archive, housed in Washington D.C.


The National Geographic Image Collection houses over 11 million photographs and less than 2 percent have been published. To share its archival heritage, National Geographic is now initiating a concerted program to proliferate the treasures of the Image Collection through fine art exhibitions and sales to museums and private collectors. This is only the second exhibition of its kind and it accompanies the publication of National Geographic Image Collection (516 pages, over 300 photographs), published in the fall of 2009.


The bodies of work presented are diverse. The Alexander Graham Bell Collection is a group of photographs by Bell and his assistants of their flight experiments utilizing tetrahedral structures, 1907-09.  Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden’s portrayals of the classicized youth of Sicily were featured in the December 1909 issue of National Geographic.  An integral part of Captain Robert Scott’s mission, Herbert Ponting utilized a large 8 x 10 inch negative camera to document the ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, 1910 –13. Using an ingenious trip wire and powdered magnesium, George Shiras III made the earliest images of wildlife by flash, beginning in the 1890s. The publication of these images in 1906 helped spawn the creation of North America’s first national parks. Colorful botanist Joseph Rock always traveled with rugs and library as he led National Geographic research expeditions into China, sending tales and hundreds of exotic images to the magazine in the 1920s and 30s.  Captain Frank Hurley and A. B. Lewis documented the dress and undress of the natives of Papua New Guinea in the 1920s. Geologist Willis Lee photographed the magnificent domes and caves of the desolate Carlsbad Caverns in 1924.


National Geographic Magazine, the Society’s official journal, published in English and 32 local-language editions, is read by more than 35 million people each month. Is it the articles that have made National Geographic one of the world’s most popular journals? Yes, but above all it is their splendid photographic illustrations that are craved.  The Society’s mission is to “to inspire people to care about the planet.” This exhibition will examine some of the ways the earliest National Geographic photographers contributed to that cause. National Geographic photographs are renowned for embodying the excitement of seeing crucial pieces of our diverse planet for the first time. For over a century, National Geographic photographers have visited new places with new perspectives and new equipment to capture astounding images.


The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. The Society was founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge.” National Geographic reflects the world through its magazines, television programs, films, music and radio, books, DVDs, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, interactive media and merchandise. The National Geographic Channel reaches 310 million households in 34 languages in 165 countries. National Geographic Digital Media receives more than 13 million visitors a month. National Geographic has funded more than 9,200 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an educational program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit