In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits

October 30, 2010 - January 2, 2011

Created by National Geographic and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, In Focus reveals that it is possible to portray the essence of people and places in two dimensions.

For well over 100 years, the name National Geographic has been synonymous with compelling photography. In Focus brings together a rare collection of expressive portraits and scenes from around the world and here at home. This collection of outstanding images, shot from the early 20th century to the late 1990s, not only parallels the Society's interest in the ethnographic study of "exotic" lands, but also reveals the magazine's idealized view of domestic life in the United States during the Great Depression and World War II.

From Steve McCurry's haunting image of the green-eyed Afghan girl to lesser known scenes of tribal leaders, fishermen, and American workers, In Focus takes viewers around the globe and through the heights and depths of human emotion.

In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits was created by National Geographic and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and is organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.


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Local Sponsor
Michigan Humanities Council Logo

In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition and related programs do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Michigan Humanities Council.


Steve McCurry, Afghan Girl
Steve McCurry, 1985

In 2002, National Geographic relocated Sharbat Gulu, now in her 30s with three children, in the remote Pushtun region of Afghanistan.

Steve McCurry, Afghan Girl
B. Anthony Stewart, Apple Bobbing
U.S. Army Photo, 89th Division
Thomas J. Abercrombie, Caged Goldfinches

John Scofield, Dancer in New Guinea
Dr. Joseph K. Dixon, Ida Palmer
Luis Marden, Lobsterettes
John Scofield, Mardi Gras Celebrant

M. Branger & Sons, Neighborly Conversation
Maynard Owen Williams, Women of the Steppes
Jacob Gayer, Greenland
Dick Durrance II, Zulu Couple



Held in conjunction with

Race Exhibit




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