Animal portraits abound at National Geographic photo exhibit

Florida panther

Beginning Saturday, March 5, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History invites visitors to immerse themselves in the acclaimed photography in the National Geographic exhibit “Photo Ark.”

From a curious Arctic fox and cuddly koalas to a skulking leopard and scaly rhinoceros snake, visitors will come face to face with some of the world’s most charismatic, and endangered, animals.

Developed and presented by the National Geographic Society, the exhibit highlights 30 of photographer Joel Sartore’s portraits from the National Geographic Photo Ark project, a multiyear effort spearheaded by Sartore to document 20,000 species living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. The project is meant as a hopeful platform for conservation and to shine a light on individuals and organizations working to preserve species around the world.

“The National Geographic Photo Ark has already inspired millions around the world with the message that it is not too late to save some of the world’s most endangered species,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of exhibitions for National Geographic Society.

The exhibit uses studio-quality photographs and video to show how the interactions between living things and the environment keep the planet healthy for all. Although some of the animals in “Photo Ark,” such as the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, are likely gone, the exhibit also spotlights stories of species saved, such as the Mexican grey wolf, through habitat preservation and breeding programs.

“People save what they love,” said Ann Craig, exhibitions director at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. “The animal ambassadors in ‘Photo Ark’ inspire us to care for all the world’s incredible, vanishing creatures and to help protect them for future generations.”

The museum reimagined “Photo Ark” as an English-Spanish bilingual exhibit, working with CrossCultural Now for the Spanish language translations. Visitors can also explore the planet’s amazing biodiversity and the characteristics that make Earth unique though hands-on, interactive stations.

The museum will mark the exhibit’s unveiling with a weeklong celebration set for Saturday, March 5, through Sunday, March 13. The opening celebration will feature indoor and outdoor activities for visitors of all ages.

The festivities will run during regular museum hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with evening hours on Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free for UO ID cardholders and museum members.

“Photo Ark” is on view through May 29.

—By Lauren Willis, Museum of Natural and Cultural History