29 NOVEMBER 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Lewis and Clark Revisited: A Trail in Modern Day, a traveling exhibition of 60 black and white photographs taken by professional photographer Greg Mac Gregor while he retraced Lewis and Clark’s legendary journey, opens at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology 15 December 2007 through 10 February 2008.
In 1804, Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, with a small brigade, to explore the land obtained by the Louisiana Purchase and to find a passageway to the Pacific Ocean. Referred to as the Corps of Discovery, Lewis and Clark’s unprecedented overland expedition across North America and back pioneered the western exploration and expansion of the United States.
Two centuries later, photographer Greg Mac Gregor retraced their journey to see the present state of this historic route. Mac Gregor’s dramatic black and white images chronicle the transformation of the American landscape from industrialization. Paired with the images are entries from the Lewis and Clark journals, which Mac Gregor used to follow in their footsteps, and maps of the expedition trail. Lewis and Clark Revisited speaks to the legacy of the early explorers who opened up the American west to a young nation’s imagination and settlement. At the same time, the exhibition provides a rich visual commentary on contemporary American life.
The photographs in this exhibit provide a powerful visual journey, and a reminder that change is an unrelenting process. The images reveal the pervasive impact of human industry, as well as the process of some scenes returning back to their natural states. In the exhibit, the photographer avoids close-ups. Almost every photograph contains the horizon, a visual reminder of the grand scope and scale of Lewis and Clark’s westward journey.
Starting from the official beginning of Lewis and Clark’s expedition in Saint Charles, Missouri, Mac Gregor captures important natural landmarks and waterways encountered by the explorers including: the Kansas River, Council Bluffs Iowa, the Three Forks of the Missouri, the Yellowstone River, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Falls in Montana. Traveling over 16,000 miles, the project took Mac Gregor six years to complete from 1993-1999. During that time, Mac Gregor visited and revisited specific scenes described in the explorers’ journals, using their words as his guide. Most photographs were made while Mac Gregor was either standing directly on the trail or looking straight at where it used to be.
Greg Mac Gregor is a Professor Emeritus of Photography at California State University East Bay, where he has worked since 1980. He received a Master of Arts in Photography from San Francisco State University in 1970 and a Master of Science in Physics from the South Dakota School of Mones and Technology in 1964. For the past 28 years his work has been shown widely throughout the United States and abroad, and he has been published in a dozen photography books and articles.
The “Lewis and Clark Revisited: A Trail in Modern Day” exhibition tour was organized by Greg Mac Gregor and the California Exhibition Resources Alliance (CERA). CERA is a network of professionally operated museums and cultural organizations that collaborate to create and tour smaller, affordable, high quality exhibitions that enhance civic engagement and human understanding. CERA is supported by generous grants from The James Irvine Foundation and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at http://www.penn.museum.