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Jim Brandenburg's 'Chased By The Light' returns to Bell Museum of Natural History

November 30, 2011

“Chased By the Light: Jim Brandenburg’s 90-Day Photo Journey” comes back to the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History for a new showing that opens Dec. 10 and runs through May 13, 2012. It’s the first time in 13 years the popular exhibit will be available to area residents. The exhibit has thrilled audiences nationwide since its debut.

Brandenburg began his photo journey with a simple plan: "In autumn I set out to make one photograph—one single exposure—each day for 90 days. I hoped with patience and endurance to renew my vision of the natural world."

After 90 days, what emerged from the deep woods in and around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was a changed photographer with three rolls of film. Each roll was filled with images that represented Brandenburg’s feelings about the essence of wild places such as a raven feather in the rain, a tree marked by a bear or a vibrant view of an aurora borealis.

In today’s era of quick communication, mind-boggling amounts of media, and digital cameras providing a nearly endless supply of photos to alter, “Chased By the Light” is more relevant than ever.

“Setting aside time to slow down—to study and contemplate nature and the world around us—is a timeless message, and this exhibit is a great way to inspire people to do this,” says Bell Museum exhibit curator Don Luce.

For Luce, documenting our relationship with nature is not only good for the spirit, it’s also key to the preservation of memories. “The BWCA, where many of the images were shot, has been in the news of late," he says. "With climate change, intense storms and fires, the north woods are changing rapidly. This area we thought we set aside to be preserved forever may be a very different place for our children and grandchildren. Jim's photos will be an important visual documentation of what this place was once like.”

All 90 of Brandenburg’s “Chased By the Light” images will be on display in the West Gallery at the Bell Museum, along with a selection of images from the same areas Brandenburg took after the major storm of 1999. A video theater provides a behind-the-scenes exploration of methods and meanings of Brandenburg’s remarkable images.

A native Minnesotan, Jim Brandenburg spent three decades traveling the world as a photographer with National Geographic magazine. His piece “NorthWoods Journal,” the impetus for "Chased By the Light," made National Geographic history. According to editor William Allen, it was “the most photographs the magazine had ever published in one feature in its entire history … and by the way, using the least amount of film.”

The Bell Museum is part of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and strives to advance the quest to discover, document and understand life in its many forms and to inspire curiosity, delight and informed stewardship of the natural world. For details, visit

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All 90 of Jim Brandenburg’s “Chased By the Light” images will be on display in the West Gallery at the Bell Museum.

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