Muhammad Ali towers victoriously over the unconscious body of Sonny Liston after a first round knockout on May 25, 1965.

Serena Williams focusing intensely as she strains to connect her racket with a tennis ball during a match.

Derek Jeter painstakingly slides into third base as dirt engulfs his face.

The Nigerian 4x100 meter relay team exuding excitement after earning a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics.

These are just a sampling of the more than 200 sports photographs taken by photographers across six continents over the past 175 years showcased in the Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present exhibit at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

"Who Shot Sports" features 200 sports photographs taken by photographers across six continents over the past 175 years.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


From Quidditch to the Olympics: 

Who Shot Sports is on display through January 13, 2019, and admission to the exhibit is included with the purchase of admission to the GRAM.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and college students, $6 for youth, and free for GRAM members and children five years old and younger. Organized into nine thematic sections, the exhibit includes classic images of legendary athletes, action shots from unique vantage points, fans showcasing their enthusiasm, rare behind-the-scenes moments, successes and failures during the Olympics, and much more. It even includes moments from lesser-known sports, such as African wrestling, Donga stick fighting, and collegiate quidditch for Harry Potter enthusiasts.

[The finest sports photographers] are on the front lines of human drama, preserving bodies in motion, giving shape to the emotions of victory or despair while capturing the spirit of the game and the nobility in athletic pursuits.
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While the photographs themselves are breathtaking, Gail Buckland, guest curator, says the ultimate goal of Who Shot Sports is to introduce visitors to the more than 150 professional photographers who have poured their passion into capturing historic moments in sports.

“The finest sports photographers do much more than record the winning goal, dunk, or tackle,” said Buckland. “They are on the front lines of human drama, preserving bodies in motion, giving shape to the emotions of victory or despair while capturing the spirit of the game and the nobility in athletic pursuits.”

Buckland added that photography and sports have gone hand-in-hand since the invention of photography in the 19th century, but the artistry of shooting sports has been underappreciated over the years.

“As a photographic historian, I know what has been included in the history of photography and art history books, and what has been left out. Sports photography is not part of the canon,” says Buckland. “I want people to appreciate sports photography aesthetically as well as the important part of photojournalism that it is.”

The "Who Shot Sports" exhibit is organized into nine thematic sections, ranging from action shots of athletes to fans overcome with excitement.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


Extras & Tours:

In addition to viewing the awe-inspiring photographs in the exhibit, visitors can try to mimic athletes and sports photographers while wearing GRAM jerseys by capturing their own action shots in a photo booth just outside the gallery.

Guests can also share their favorite sports memories at a “talk back” station.

“It is fun to see the varied responses from people in our community and the way in which sports bring us together,” says Jennifer Wcisel, GRAM curatorial assistant. “There is also a reading space where visitors can relax, flip through the Who Shot Sports book, or learn more about the photographers and sports seen in the exhibition.”

The Nigerian 4x100 meter relay team exuding excitement after earning a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics is just one of the images featured in "Who Shot Sports."

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


A guided Flashlight Tour will take place from 9 to 10 PM after the museum closes on December 20, 2018. During this unique experience, visitors will tour the GRAM’s permanent collection and any limited-run exhibitions, including Who Shot Sports, in the dark. The cost for the Flashlight Tour is $15 per person or $10 per GRAM member or member guest ages 10 and over. Registration is required for the Flashlight Tour by purchasing tickets on the GRAM website or by calling (616) 831-1002.

And don’t miss a special presentation by Louis Moore, associate professor of history and sports history expert at Grand Valley State University, on January 10, 2019, at 7 PM. Moore will speak about the stories behind the images of African American athletes in the exhibit and how and why those images became iconic.

Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and curated by Buckland and Benjamin Menschel, Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

Have you visited the Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Check out the Art page to learn more about Grand Rapids’ art events.

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