National Geographic’s "Greatest Photographs of the American West" to open at Chandler Museum

Sept. 30, 2021
Natural Bridges

Chandler Museum visitors will marvel at images taken by National Geographic photographers that capture the spirit and majesty of the American West. Featuring iconic and rare photographs, “Greatest Photographs of the American West,” opening Tuesday, Nov. 2, chronicles the epic history and grandeur of the region.

The earliest photographs of the American West were published in National Geographic magazine in 1889, setting the stage for the breathtaking images captured by such photographic masters as William Albert Allard, David Alan Harvey and Joel Sartore. In addition to these world-renowned photographers, images by early photographers such as Edward S. Curtis and William Henry Jackson also appear. The exhibition will remain open at Chandler Museum until Feb. 27, 2022.

“The role of photography in creating and perpetuating beliefs and understandings about the West has been continuous and evolving,” writes James McNutt, former president and CEO of the National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States. “Beginning with adventurous pioneers in the field and never ceasing to the present day, photography accumulated an enormous record of change beyond the 100th meridian.” The images included in the exhibition derive from the National Geographic Book, “National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West: Capturing 125 Years of Majesty, Spirit and Adventure,” in which McNutt writes the foreword. 

“Greatest Photographs of the American West” is a visual journey through the history of America. Each image captures a different aspect of the American West and its importance to our national identity. Visitors will see portrayals of some of the cowboys, Native Americans and landscapes that define the vast area. They’ll also be exposed to photographs displaying the interactions among the people of the West, visitors and wildlife. The awe-inspiring images include endless skies, boundless plains and dramatic mountains. The exhibition explores the growth of the American West and where its story may go in the future.

In coordination with the exhibit, Chandler Museum will host two History Bites Lunchtime Talks programs. The first will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 2, opening day of the exhibition. Titled “Idea and Reality: Defining the West through Imagery,” this 30-minute talk will explore the images of the West that enticed waves of homesteaders, adventure travelers, business barons and economic migrants. Learn how people drawn by those images did not always find what they were expecting.

Then, on Jan. 4, 2022, a second History Bites program, “Photography Technology Series, Part 2: Conserving Wildlife with Digital Cameras” will continue the series of 2021-22 programs examining cameras and photography. Eric Proctor of the Arizona Game and Fish Department will explain how digital cameras offer a non-invasive way for scientists to study animals, monitor population trends, and even help prevent accidental encounters between wildlife and drivers.

For both programs, guarantee your seat by registering to attend.

Photo credit: JIM RICHARDSON, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, 2008. 

About the National Geographic Society:
The National Geographic Society is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education. The Society aspires to create a community of change, advancing key insights about the planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time, all while ensuring that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. Its goal is measurable impact: furthering exploration and educating people around the world to inspire solutions for the greater good. For more information, visit National Geographic.

About Chandler Museum:
Chandler Museum is an innovative learning environment where the community comes together to share our stories, store our cultural heritage, and experience Chandler as a people and place. The vision of the Museum is to be the community’s principal resource to explore its people’s history, culture, and place in a rapidly changing world of today – within and without the walls of a building. The museum is located at 300 S. Chandler Village Drive, and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; closed on Monday. Admission is free. More information is online at
Chandler Museum or by calling 480-782-2717.


Media contacts:         
Jillian Nakornthap
Chandler Museum


Lexie de los Santos
National Geographic