Last call for Expedition Train!

Friday, July 16
8:30pm doors open | 9:30pm board train | 1am return home

Put on your best dress khakis and hiking boots for the Duluth Art Institute Expedition Train! Inspired by the National Geographic Greatest Portraits exhibit currently on view, the Duluth Art Institute is sending visitors on assignment into the wilds of Duluth.

Your adventure begins at the Depot train station where you’ll enjoy live music by local favorites Tryke and two free drink tickets. This is also the last chance to view the Smithsonian exhibit “In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits” for free.  The train will depart the Depot station at 10pm and bring explorers deep into Duluth’s unexplored backcountry (if by backcountry you mean Emily’s Eatery to hear music by Kip Jones).

You’ll be given a number of adventure assignments during your trip, so choose your fellow traveling partners well! The train will return home by 1 am. The ticket price includes music, train ride, viewing of the Smithsonian show, and drink tickets.

Call or email the Duluth Art Institute to get your tickets today – 218-733-7560 or getart @



about 11 years ago

I have nothing against the art institute, in fact I must compliment them on an excellent campaign to get the word out about the exhibition this summer, everywhere I look I see it.  Before I threadjack here I just want to reiterate that I think the Duluth Art Institute is just great and I am sure they will have even more compelling, thought provoking, and mesmerizing campaigns in the future under the direction of AnnieD and the rest of their crew.  

However, I do feel that National Geographic has exploited the girl in the picture, though and I'd love to hear what others think about it.   Her name is Sharbat Gula, and she has never been paid a single dime of royalties for her image as far as I know.  She lives in desperate poverty, and has had a very hard life according to this article:  

Afghan Girl:  A Life Revealed

I know that a certain journalistic objectivity is required when covering stories and capturing images, and photographers shouldn't have to pay everyone for their pictures or their story.  But for 25 years now this picture has been trumpeted by NatGeo as one of the most iconic photographs ever, and it is.  Just ... I wish that Sharbat Gula would have gotten a little more credit and maybe a tiny fraction of the $ that have come in to NatGeo over the years from exploiting her image through posters, coffee table books and who knows what else.


about 11 years ago

I think this is a wonderful conversation to have, Wildgoose, and I'm glad you are bringing it up in a public setting. We've had a talks in the gallery with UMD professors to explore that exact issue. Sharbat does get some help, but that doesn't mean there aren't issues of exploitation involved. 

I think a successful exhibit has lots of debate and I'd love to hear what others think about National Geographic and the exhibit on view.


about 11 years ago

As one of the professors who spoke at the gallery, I actually focused most of my talk on exactly this issue of the exploitation of Sharbat Gula. I showed the photos of Sharbat Gula that were part of the later issue of National Geographic. Our discussion raised questions about who benefits from representations of "exotic" peoples. 

I agree with you Wildgoose, National Geographic has exploited this image. However, they (and others) have also been able to use it as the basis of educational pieces relating to refugees in Afghanistan and elsewhere. This is part of the complexities of this weird, globalized/localized era.

The later article, where Sharbat Gula allowed herself to be rephotographed, simply says that she is "taken care of," which seems very paternalistic and nonspecific. She has also said she does not want to be photographed again, nor does she want to be further interviewed by journalists--I hope that request is honored.

It is worth visiting this exhibit, especially with friends, to discuss these kinds of issues.


about 11 years ago

The Art Institute has its choice of 50 other portraits in the exhibition to promote and market this event.


about 11 years ago

This is a great exhibit, definitely worth seeing. I look forward to taking it in one last time, before it leaves.

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