As part of a new cross-platform initiative dedicated to raising awareness about the status of sharks around the world, the National Geographic Museum will open “SHARKS: On Assignment with Brian Skerry” on May 24, 2017. Featuring the incredible work of award-winning photographer Brian Skerry, the exhibition will include large-scale images, videos, artifacts, life-size models and interactive experiences—all highlighting Skerry’s passion, skill and life-long commitment to conservation of the world’s oceans. The exhibition will remain on view through Oct. 1, 2017.
More than 100 million sharks are killed each year, primarily for their fins. Skerry has gone to extraordinary lengths—spending more than 10,000 hours underwater exploring the world’s oceans with a camera—to show why they need to be protected and appreciated as an integral species within the ecosystem.
Skerry’s first encounter with a female blue shark off the coast of Rhode Island over 30 years ago was a galvanizing moment. “I was entranced by her rich, indigo skin, while every sense in my body was on high alert, my heart racing as I moved closer,” he says. “Drawing to within a couple of feet of each other, she barely acknowledged my presence and then vanished into the haze.”
The spell has only grown stronger in the years since, and the more Skerry understands these creatures, the more he wants to show them in a different light, as something to respect and value rather than revile and fear.
Skerry’s latest stories for National Geographic magazine speak to the importance of these predators to the ecosystem and the dangers they face for survival. He has made 14 trips around the world to photograph tiger sharks, great whites, oceanic whitetips and shortfin makos. A selection of these images will be featured in the exhibition. In addition, the exhibition will take visitors on an immersive journey and will provide the opportunity to see what a shark-proof metal cage looks like up close—and experience a 360-degree visualization from the perspective of an underwater photographer in close encounters with these impressive species.
“For the artist within me, sharks represent an endless well of inspiration, a blend of grace and power that lures me into the sea time and time again in hopes of producing a new rendering that truly captures their essence,” says Skerry. “As a journalist, I’m driven by a sense of responsibility and a sense of the urgent need to broadcast that sharks are in trouble and need our help.”
The exhibition will also include a section devoted to National Geographic’s ocean conservation efforts, including the Pristine Seas project. National Geographic and Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala launched the Pristine Seas project to find, survey and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. Through exploration, scientific research, economic and policy analysis, and outreach, National Geographic has worked to establish marine reserves where aquatic life can thrive—while ensuring that they will be effectively managed for years to come. Pristine Seas is one of National Geographic’s key initiatives dedicated to environmental preservation.
“This exhibition is another example of the ways in which National Geographic uses its powerful storytelling to make a meaningful impact on conservation efforts,” says Kathryn Keane, vice president of National Geographic Exhibitions. “Brian’s life story and his powerful photographs take the standard perception of these feared and iconic predators and turn it on its head. Through their sheer majesty and beauty, his photographs help us gain a deeper understanding of the world’s sharks and see them in an entirely new light.”
About Brian Skerry:
Award-winning National Geographic photojournalist and conservationist Brian Skerry specializes in marine wildlife and underwater environments—from tropical coral reefs to polar ice. Over the course of his career, Brian has spent over 10,000 hours underwater. While on assignment, he’s lived on the bottom of the sea, spent months aboard fishing boats, and traveled in everything from snowmobiles to canoes to the Goodyear Blimp to get the picture. A National Geographic magazine photographer since 1998, Brian’s work has also appeared in a wide range of other prestigious outlets, including BBC Wildlife, U.S. News & World Report and Sports Illustrated. He’s won the coveted Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition 11 times, in addition to many other prizes. In 2014, he was named a National Geographic Photography Fellow and in 2015, a Nikon Ambassador. Additionally, Skerry will be honored as the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year at the National Geographic Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C. in June.
The National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., is open every day (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A press preview of “Sharks: On Assignment with Brian Skerry” will be held on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 from 10 am – 12 noon. Skerry will give remarks and offer a tour of the exhibition. To RSVP, please contact Sara Durr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skerry will give a behind-the-scenes look at his work during a talk on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $25. For more information, please see here.
A free family festival celebrating the world’s oceans will take place on Saturday, July 22.
Additionally, National Geographic will bring the shark experience to life across its many interactive platforms, including a new book, SHARK (National Geographic; on sale June 13, 2017; ISBN 978-1-4262- 1910-8; 208 pages; $25), a magazine feature, live events, a new app in partnership with Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and the premiere of Nat Geo WILD’s fifth annual week-long SharkFest on Sunday, July 23, 2017. For information, please see here.
Images, usage requirements and other assets are available here.