I love National Geographic. My entire childhood the latest issue of the magazine sat on our coffee table on top of our two giant atlases, one of North America and one of the World. My mom loved geography.
Outside of briefly living in Germany and Virginia while my father was in the military, my mom didn't do a lot of traveling. Our family vacation was always to Maui. Not a bad family vacation destination, but it grew old over the years. My mom loved learning about the world and I always felt like she wished that she had seen more of it. She passed her love of the world along to me.
The monthly arrival of National Geographic was always an exciting mail day. When I was in elementary school, she subscribed to National Geographic World (in addition to National Geographic) a magazine for kids. One year, they ran a geography quiz contest with new questions in the magazine every month. My mom helped me discover the answers on our atlases. The contested ended up being a prize raffle for all of the kids who had the correct answers and although I didn't win, my name was put on a pull-out map in the magazine featuring all of kids that had the correct answers. One of my best friends also had his name on the map! Good memories.
When I think of National Geographic, I think of my mom and exploring amazing things with her from our couch. I was really excited to discover that the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas was hosting a National Geographic photography exhibit. The exhibit showcases what editors have picked as the fifty best or more iconic photographs.
We bought discount tickets to the exhibition at the Tix4Tonight booth in the Town Square Mall. The regular admission price is eighteen a ticket. The exhibit is amazing and wonderful, but not worth a full price admission.
We arrived late on a Friday, mid-afternoon and the exhibition was very quiet. We never had to wait to view a photo. The exhibition is located across from the Venetian Guest Check-In area, tucked away in a corner and a bit hard to locate. It has a small gift shop, which also serves as the entry to the exhibition.
The exhibition takes place in one big room, which is broken up by dividing walls in the center. The pictures are equally spaced throughout the walls with a small description of each photographed placed below or to the side of the picture.
Lighting is a problem. The lighting in the gallery is all fixed to enhance the photograph, which is great, however, in more than one case, it was too dark to read the information about the photograph. I felt like I was cheated on the experience. They should fix the lighting or hand out mini flashlights. Bring a mini flashlight, trust me.
The photographs are all very amazing and some are quite emotional. One that really caught me off guard was a photograph of a child of farmers whose sheep had been killed by a car. The kid is completely wreck with grief. I felt gutted looking at it.
I loved a picture of mountain climbers in a snow storm. They each are wearing a particular bright color, so that they can be easily identified during climbs. The picture showed the guys waiting out a severe storm. They are sitting in the snow and brilliant patches of vibrant pinks, oranges and blues on their outfits are peaking through the thick white.
There was a stomach churning picture of a dead bird and the contents of it's stomach. The bird had consumed all kinds of trash. The quantity of what was in this animal's stomach is mind boggling. They should do an anti-litter advertising campaign with this picture. It was very affecting.
One of my all time favorite photographs was included in the exhibition. It's a photograph of a chimpanzee touching Dr. Jane Goodall's hair. It's a beautiful moment that a photographer happened to capture.
The exhibition included several videos highlighting certain photographs and the photographers that captured the shot. This was the most interesting component of the exhibition.
In particular, I liked hearing the backstory behind a picture of farmers in Australia experiencing a drought. The picture was of a farmer and his children. The farmer was excited to check his fields after they had a rain storm. He was optimistic heading out, but when they arrived at the fields the area was still dry and damaged. The farmer was keeping strong for his two children, ran out around the truck, where the photographer was snapping pictures. She managed to get a candid shot with amazing framing using the truck's mirror. The video component really highlighted the story behind the picture.
As great as the photographs are, I wish that there had been more about the photographers. I find that the story behind the picture is often more interesting that the actual photograph. I wanted more of the journalism and not just the art.
We spent about an hour in the exhibition. I enjoyed viewing the incredible photographs, but was left feeling like the experience was lacking. It was almost as if they just threw the photographs up on the wall, without giving enough attention to the meaning behind the photos or to the photographers. Not terrible, just lacking. It's worth the trip if you can get discount tickets.