“Photo Ark” is a multiyear National Geographic project with a simple goal — to create portraits of the world’s species before they disappear and to inspire people everywhere to care. National Geographic will showcase this important project through multiple platforms, including an exhibition that opens at the National Geographic Museum in Washington on Thursday, Nov. 5. Featuring the work of photographer, speaker, author, teacher and National Geographic Society Fellow Joel Sartore, the exhibition will be on display in the museum until April 2016.
The “Photo Ark” exhibition will highlight nearly all of the more than 5,000 images that comprise Sartore’s decade-long Photo Ark collection to date. Incredibly, that number doesn’t quite mark the project’s halfway point — Sartore estimates the completed Photo Ark will include portraits of over 12,000 species representing several different animal classes, including birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. In what will be the largest single archive of studio-quality photographs of biodiversity ever, Photo Ark continues to move toward its goal of documenting these 12,000 species in captivity, thanks in part to Sartore’s enduring relationships with many of the world’s zoos and aquariums — institutions dedicated to preserving and caring for species of all kinds.
“Photo Ark” exhibition visitors will also get a behind-the-scenes look at Sartore’s methodical process for shooting these stunning photos, oftentimes with comedic mishaps that go along with working with his occasionally temperamental “models.” Video and still portraits throughout the exhibition will capture the essence of these animals, while a cacophony of animal sounds will further bring these precious creatures to life right in downtown Washington. In addition to gripping imagery, the exhibit includes compelling stories about the dedicated people and organizations working to help these animals in an aptly named “Hall of Heroes.” Visitors will also walk through a heartbreaking gallery dedicated to some of the world’s most critically endangered and even extinct species.
Hands-on, interactive elements include video screens, a field station and photo tents that give guests the sense that they are on a shoot with Sartore. Visitors will also learn how they can help support the continuing work of the Photo Ark project as well as the National Geographic Society’s ongoing conservation efforts.