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Mrithi, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, 1980, by Michael Nichols

Mrithi, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, 1980, by Michael Nichols. Photograph courtesy of the artist. © Michael Nichols/National Geographic


Wild: Michael Nichols

June 27–September 17, 2017

"It's all about respect for the natural world."—Michael Nichols

Explore the work of legendary photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols: artist, technical innovator, and ardent advocate for preserving natural habitats. Be transported through the split-second magic of images captured in some of the most remote areas of the world. Nichols's stunning photographs offer intense confrontations with the power and fragility of the wild and a reflection of our own humanity.

For more than three decades, Nichols has ventured to the farthest reaches of the world to document nature's wildest creatures and landscapes. As an award-winning photographer for National Geographic, he has recorded animals and habitats in locations as expansive as the Congo Basin, the Serengeti, and the American West with an unparalleled intensity.

This exhibition presents Nichols's most important projects, highlighting his artistic accomplishments, technical innovations, and efforts to preserve wild spaces. His photographs are shown with depictions of nature from the Museum's collection, inviting visitors to consider humankind's complex, and often brutal, relationship with the wild.

From June 27 to September 4, 2017, Art Splash, the Museum's popular family program presented by PNC Arts Alive, explores themes from the exhibition via in-gallery explorations, hands-on workshops, guided tours, performances, and festivals.

Explore the Exhibition

This exhibition surveys the work of Michael "Nick" Nichols, who has explored the natural world for almost forty years. Nichols approaches photography with the serious purpose and derring-do of an investigative journalist and the imaginative sweep of a master storyteller. These qualities, paired with his dogged patience, have resulted in an extraordinary body of photographs about the wild.

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About the Artist

Photographer Michael Nichols (American, born 1952) has committed much of his life to revealing and giving voice to some of nature’s wildest creatures and landscapes. As an award-winning photographer for National Geographic, he has spent months at a time intimately documenting individual animals—primarily big cats, great apes, and elephants—and their families, behavior, and habitats in extraordinary locations such as the Congo Basin, the Serengeti, and the American West.

Nichols has photographed for many publications, including Geo and Rolling Stone. He was also a member of Magnum Photos for thirteen years before becoming a staff photographer for National Geographic magazine in 1996. His first story for National Geographic was published in 1991. Since then, he has completed twenty-five stories for the magazine and was named Editor-at-Large in 2008. In 2013 National Geographic published his groundbreaking photo essay on the Serengeti lion, focusing on two prides and a dark-maned male named C-Boy. His final work for the magazine was made in Yellowstone National Park; it was published in 2016 as part of an issue devoted to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Nichols founded the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2007. He currently resides in Sugar Hollow, Virginia, with his partner and wife of forty years, artist Reba Peck.


Support for Wild: Michael Nichols is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts with additional support from Leslie Miller and Richard Worley, National Geographic, Lyn M. Ross, Lynne and Harold Honickman, Donna D. and Marvin Schwartz, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Anderson, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, Mrs. Susannah D. Rouse, Constance and Sankey Williams, an anonymous donor, and other generous donors.

Art Splash is presented by PNC Arts Alive, with additional support from The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Ar, Sondra and Martin Landes, Jr., Mari and Peter Shaw, Julius and Ray Charlestein Foundation, Inc., the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and ARW/ITW.


Peter Barberie, The Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center; and guest cocurator Melissa Harris

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