A win­dow into the African wilds

The Washington Post Sunday - - THIS WEEK - BY ROGER CATLIN style@wash­post.com Catlin is a free­lance writer.

Any mu­seum where you’re greeted by an 8ton, 14foot African ele­phant in the en­try­way may have a tough sell for a show of mere pho­to­graphs of the same crea­tures.

But the work in the new ex­hi­bi­tion “Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Into Africa: The Pho­to­graphs of Frans Lant­ing” at the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral History brings its own vivid life to the an­i­mals that roam that con­ti­nent. Work­ing for Na­tional Ge­o­graphic, the Dutch­born Lant­ing has taken mul­ti­ple trips to Africa, and this show re­flects the ur­gency to con­serve the poignant and pow­er­ful wildlife that re­mains.

Here are some num­bers, gal­lop­ing across the sa­van­nah, about the al­ready pop­u­lar ex­hi­bi­tion:


Decades that Lant­ing has been shoot­ing wildlife photos in Africa for Na­tional Ge­o­graphic.


Color photos in the ex­hi­bi­tion.


The square footage of the ex­hi­bi­tion, on the sec­ond floor of the mu­seum, pre­sented by the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic So­ci­ety and the World Wildlife Fund.


The­matic sec­tions: trop­i­cal forests, wet­lands and rivers, grass­lands, Mada­gas­car, and deserts.


Years ago Mon­day that Frans Lant­ing was born in Rot­ter­dam, Nether­lands.


Pachy­derms gath­ered in a 1989 photo, “Ele­phants at Twi­light,” although a pond’s re­flec­tion dou­bles the num­ber.


De­grees, in Fahren­heit, when Lant­ing took the photo “Chim­panzees, Sene­gal, 2007,” in which his pri­mate sub­ject is about to jump in a pool.


Wary an­i­mals lined up in the photo “Im­palas, Tan­za­nia, 1988.”


Ele­phant pic­tured head­ing through the lobby of a ho­tel in “Lodge, Zam­bia, 2005.”


Chee­tahs es­ti­mated to be left in the Serengeti, com­pared with 3,000 lions and 1,000 leop­ards.

5 Photos of chee­tahs in the ex­hi­bi­tion.


White rhi­nos that mu­seum visi­tors can pose with in the ex­hi­bi­tion’s photo booth.


Sec­onds be­tween each ex­po­sure in the photo booth.

7.3 mil­lion

Visi­tors to the Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral History in 2014, mak­ing it the most pop­u­lar of the Smith­so­nian mu­se­ums and one of the most vis­ited mu­se­ums in the world.


Age in years of the Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral History.

Into Africa: The Pho­tog­ra­phy of Frans Lant­ing Through sum­mer 2016 at the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral History, 10th Street and Con­sti­tu­tion Av­enue NW. Free. 202-633-1000. www.mnh.si.edu.


An ele­phant walks through the lobby of a lodge in Zam­bia’s South Luangwa Na­tional Park to get to its fa­vorite mango tree. The photo is part of an ex­hi­bi­tion of pho­tog­ra­pher Frans Lant­ing’s work.

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