Kodachrome Tourism

A new exhibit opened today in the National Geographic Museum here in DC at the National Geographic Society headquarters. It’s called “Kodachrome Culture: The American Tourist in Europe” and it features wonderfully retro travel images from the pages National Geographic magazine. Here’s one of my favorites, a photo of people lounging on the rocky beach at Etretat, France, with the Notre Dame de la Garde chapel atop the chalk cliffs in the background.

From the exhibit:

National Geographic pioneered the use of Kodachrome film in the late 1930s and was among the first to recognize its advantages. The film produced a dye image without the grain found in other color processes, and the photographs could be enlarged without loss of detail. The film was also faster. Instead of requiring a tripod, color shots taken with a compact 35mm camera could be spontaneously composed. By the time American tourism was taking off in the 1950s, National Geographic photographers were adept at using Kodachrome. The images helped National Geographic stand out from other magazines still publishing in black-and-white.
Eventually Kodachrome became the most widely used color film in the United States.

Fast Facts:

The National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For information on the “Kodachrome Culture” exhibit, call (202) 857-7588 or visit www.ngmuseum.org.

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Senior Photo Editor Dan Westergren discussed the story of how National Geographic Explorers came to name Kodachrome Flat in Bryce Caynon, Utah. And check out a gallery of classic Kodachrome images from the National Geographic archives here.

Photo by Howell Walker, from “Normandy Blossoms Anew,” National Geographic magazine, May 1959, p. 629

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