Be a “Nature’s Witness”!

Get a Sneak Peek of this Awe-inspiring Exhibit

It’s not often you get to wander through an animal kingdom where creatures large and small—from elephants, alligators and bobcats to pikas, polar bears and flamingos—all mingle together in perfect harmony. But that’s exactly the delightful experience you’ll have at “Nature’s Witness,” the National Wildlife Federation’s first-ever exhibition of wildlife photography chosen from the National Wildlife Photo Contest. Keep reading to learn more about this historic moment for the 48-year-old photo contest and get a sneak peek at some of the awe-inspiring photos from the exhibit. 

Opening this month in the expansive halls and galleries of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., the exhibit features 50 powerful photographs selected to inspire conservation. Each image was an entry in the annual National Wildlife Photo Contest, which National Wildlife magazine has conducted annually for more than four decades. Each year the contest draws more than 20,000 images from around the world, a vivid array of stunning photographs that reflect the power, diversity, fragility and priceless worth of the natural world.  

Free and open to the public on weekdays from November 2019 through April 2020, this exhibit features four thematic collections of images. One, titled “Nature’s Challenge,” is a gallery of photographs of North American species that represent some conservation successes—such as the amazing comeback of the humpback whale—and many of the threats putting wildlife at risk today, including climate change, invasive species, habitat loss and emerging diseases. Detailed captions offer viewers insights into these challenges and thoughts on what can be done to address them.


Another collection of images, titled “Life’s Essentials,” features photographs that illustrate how people can “garden for wildlife”—providing food, water, cover and places to raise young—to benefit a myriad of species such as birds, bees, butterflies and amphibians. This collection stresses how one person and one bloom at a time, we can all make a difference for wildlife. 

A stunning group of four large images adorns the building’s grand lobby. Here you can witness the timid face of a baby flamingo peeking out from its parent’s wing. See the massive body of a mother walrus gently nudging her young calf off the ice toward the sea. Feel the tender bond between a bison calf and its mother as the calf nestles on its mother’s back. And gaze at the fragile and uncertain journey of a sea turtle hatchling as it first enters the sea.

Beyond the grand lobby along gracefully curved walls you’ll pass a riveting collection of images as diverse as nature itself. Massive elephants rumble along a well-trodden path in Kenya. Gemsbok antelope plunge down a towering sand dune in Namibia. A luminescent jellyfish drifts through pitch-black ocean in the Philippines. A graceful egret preens, a dragonfly’s wing catches the sun, gray whales swim through a forest of giant kelp, a white weasel vanishes against a field of snow, and a polar bear stands—looking regal and bewildered—on an Arctic shoreline riddled with boulders of ice on a warming sea.

Fifty images, each with a story to tell. Come and listen to what they have to say. They show us all the magnificence of nature and how wildlife deserve—and desperately need—our help to survive. Just look at what we stand to gain: nothing less than life itself.

See more award-winning National Wildlife photos in our “Kindred Spirits” feature and don’t miss out on your chance to win National Wildlife magazine’s Photo Contest and our $5,000 Grand Prize! There are also cash prizes in all eight categories, so there are plenty of chances to win.


“Nature’s Witness:” The National Wildlife Federation’s first-ever wildlife photography exhibition is free and open to the public (9 to 5, Monday through Friday) from November 1, 2019 through April 30, 2020 at 1200 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. A family-friendly exhibit, it includes a room for kids where they can sit on comfy beanbag chairs and pick up copies of Ranger Rick®, Ranger Rick Jr.™, Cub™, Zoobooks®, and other National Wildlife Federation children’s publications. We even have a fun “I Spy” activity so kids can hunt for eight different animals among the photographs. Come and enjoy!