Boca Raton Museum of Art
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May 6, 2016
End of Kodachrome: Reminder of connection between "The Afghan Girl" and the Museum

Eastman Kodak Co. has announced it will put Kodachrome into the discontinued bin, where it joins Polaroid in the retirement community for storied, but outdated, film formats.

A recent Palm Beach Post article about the demise of the beloved, if increasingly obsolete, film stock sparked some discussion at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The story was accompanied by an image of Steve McCurry's iconic Afghan Girl, a compelling portrait originally photographed on Kodachrome and reproduced on a 1985 cover of National Geographic.

This turned a few heads at the Museum, as we are fortunate enough to own a large print of Afghan Girl in our Permanent Collection. Our piece - which was a gift of the artist in 2008 - is a stunning Fuji Crystal Archive print. The Museum originally displayed a version of Afghan Girl in the summer 2004 exhibition Steve McCurry: Photographs of Asia, which was made possible by McCurry and Richard Coplan.

McCurry's image made for one of the most stirring covers in National Geographic's history, but a glossy magazine reprint can hardly do justice to the piece. The Museum's 21 ľ  x 14 1/8 inch print reveals the depth captured by McCurry's lens, including the detail of the girl's frayed garment and the stark intensity of her pale, piercing eyes.

Incidentally, if you're unfamiliar with the story of how McCurry originally met the "Girl" - the then, 12-year-old Sharbat Gula - and his long awaited and fought-for reunion with her nearly two decades later, NPR did a wonderful piece on the subject in 2002. The provided link includes an audio recording of the report.

Afghan Girl can currently be seen in Camera Work: Photography from the Permanent Collection, on display in the Museum's second floor photo gallery.   


Posted by: Tricia Woolfenden @ Tuesday, July 7, 2009 3:08:44 pm 
I love reading the story behind the story behind the picture, etc. What an education life is. Thanks for sharing.
Posted by: Yvonne @ July 13, 2009 9:13:00 am

I recall the story on NPR and can't believe that it was run 5 years ago. Even though it's the end of the Kodachrome era (sorry, Paul Simon), it's good to be reminded that these wonderful images reside in your museum to be visited and revisted. Thank you.
Posted by: Helen G @ July 8, 2009 11:29:00 am

Linda, Thank you for the feedback.
Being somewhat new to the Museum (I arrived in January '09), I am continually pleasantly surprised to learn of some treasure that the BRMA possesses in its Permanent Collection, particularly in the photography collection.
Posted by: Tricia Woolfenden @ July 8, 2009 11:28:00 am

An informative article in several ways. As I long time subscriber to NG, I vividly recall the cover picture, as well as the follow up story. Good to know that the photo is part of your permanent collection. Impressive.
Posted by: Linda K @ July 8, 2009 11:00:00 am

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