US photographer, Michael “Nick” Nichols, sits atop the Mt. Olympus of animal photography. The WILD exhibition brings some of his best work to Vienna’s Natural History Museum.
- Selective retrospective of Nichols’s long history in wildlife photography
- Runs Jul 8 – Oct 4, 2020
- Just a normal museum ticket required (or a Vienna Pass)
- A cooperation with the Festival La Gacilly-Baden
- See also: NHM tickets and visitor tips
The pinnacle of excellence
Only a handful of photographers manage to build a reputation that leaves their name intimately associated with the pinnacle of achievement in a particular genre.
So it is with Michael “Nick” Nichols and animal photography. Whereby photographer only gives you part of the tale: technical pioneer, pictorial storyteller, festival founder and other titles might equally be applied to this icon and long-time contributor to National Geographic.
Various awards leave no doubt about Nichols’s status.
For example, Nichols was Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2014 for his photo, The Last Great Picture: a black and white masterpiece featuring lions on the Serengeti.
Nichols has also won four World Press Photo category awards, including three in nature categories.
And when TIME magazine assembled a list of the 100 most influential photos ever taken, the usual suspects appeared: Rosenthal’s Flag Raising on Iwo Jima and Widener’s Tank Man from Tiananmen Square, to name just two.
And, in among the iconic images of world history and culture, a photo of surfing hippos…by Nichols.
So what a joy to be able to see a selective retrospective of the great man’s work at the WILD exhibition at the Natural History Museum.
Among the highlights:
- The photo of the snow-laden giant sequoia (“The President”), shown in its entirety before the days of drones. So Nichols and his team had to climb and abseil their way up and down the tree to take the shots for the composite.
- A thought-provoking series of photos of chimpanzees and other apes, which contrasts their sentience and intelligence with their often brutal or demeaning treatment at the hands of humans, as if the animals were some underclass in a dystopian world.
- Some of those award-winning photos, including the one of a charging elephant that brought Nichols the 1996 World Press Photo award in the category, Nature/Stories.
- The Serengeti lions photo appears, too, alongside others from that series. Nichols’ photos reveal the majesty of the great cats, but also their brute power and raw aggression.
- A series of videos of Nichols at work reveals the often amusing and challenging lengths he goes to for a good photo (the sequoia work features in there, too). You’ll squirm at his suffering when photographing chimpanzees in the forest.
Dates and tickets
Admire Nichols’s photos from July 8th, 2020 to October 4th, 2020. The WILD exhibition occupies space within the normal museum surrounds, so you just need an ordinary entrance ticket to view it.
Incidentally, if you enjoy professional photography, you might pop into the Kunst Haus Wien. They always have a photo exhibition going on alongside the permanent Hundertwasser Museum displays.
How to get to the exhibition
See the main museum article for specific directions, but the Natural History Museum counts as one of the key locations on the traditional walking route taken by visitors as they wander around the historic city centre. In other words, you’ll likely bump into it anyway.
Once inside, simply go up the stairs and left to reach the start of the exhibition.
Address: Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna