For the past twenty-five years, I have been privileged to travel, trek, and climb in some of the most remote and beautiful corners of the earth. My goal has always been to bring back the wonders I’ve seen to people who can’t get there.
The Museum’s new exhibition, “Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight National Parks in Focus” features breathtaking large-format photographs taken by computer scientist-turned-photographer Quang-Tuan Luong. “Treasured Lands” offers the perspective of a world traveler whose personal commitment to preserving America’s beauty and natural resources shows in his work. By capturing the distinguishing features of each national park, Luong shares his understanding of what makes each place unique.
Luong’s experiences in traveling to all 58 national parks, as described in the exhibitions text, are also unique. He kayaked through iceberg-laden waters, canoed down wild rivers, scuba-dived tropical seas, climbed to the summit of Mt. McKinley, and frequently trekked the trailless terrain of the backcountry, all while lugging his 75-pound large format camera, photo gear, and camping equipment.
When reviewing the text before the exhibition was installed, I looked on the National Park Service’s web site for additional information about some of the parks. I was struck by how remote many of them are. Only an experienced backpacker and outdoorsperson would be able to visit Gates of the Arctic National Park, for example, since it has no roads and is only accessible by floatplane. Much of the information provided on the NPS’s “Things To Know Before You Come” link have to do with wilderness survival and bear safety. Not a vacation that will appeal to everyone! Although I love visiting national parks, I prefer a hotel bed to a sleeping bag. I knew I would never visit this park in person, and welcomed the opportunity to see it through Luong’s photograph.
For a trip to a wide variety of landscapes that you might not otherwise see—from the rugged glaciers and mountains to lush, tropical islands and everything in between—visit “Treasured Lands,” on view through October 20, 2010. Mr. Luong will speak at the Museum about his experiences as an adventurous photographer of the national parks on March 14, 2010, at 2 PM as part of our Lowell Lecture Series.
Photo: The Maidens, Gates of the Arctic National Park, August 2000. Alaska. © Quang-Tuan Luong