National Museum of the American Indian Hosts Illuminating Community Event Sept. 26

Hundreds of volunteers heading to Washington, D.C., for making of RIT’s 25th Big Shot photo

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After sunset on Saturday, Sept. 26, volunteers from all over the world will converge on the National Mall in the nation’s capital to help light up the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and help create RIT’s 25th Big Shot photograph.

This nighttime photomaking event requires hundreds of volunteers, using only flashlights and camera flash units, to provide the primary light source. The Big Shot is often described as a “painting with light” photograph, because while RIT photographers shoot an extended exposure, volunteers continuously “paint” the subject area. The museum will be in the foreground of the photo with the Washington Monument in the background.

Faculty members Michael Peres and Bill DuBois from RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences and Dawn Tower DuBois from RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf are the main organizers. RIT’s Big Shot photography project began in 1987 and has drawn thousands of volunteers and spectators. Since its inception, past Big Shot photos have captured national and international landmarks including the U.S.S. Intrepid, the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden, and George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. To view all past 24 Big Shot photographs, visit

RIT students, faculty, staff and alumni will join the Washington, D.C., community and museum members in this volunteer effort. Volunteers are to meet outside the museum at 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 26. There is no pre-registration required. Volunteers need to bring either a flashlight or camera flash unit and are asked to wear dark clothing. Participants will receive a memento print of the final photograph compliments of Nikon Inc.

As RIT celebrates the making of its 25th nighttime photograph, the National Museum of the American Indian is commemorating the fifth anniversary of its opening on the National Mall.

Located just south of the U.S. Capitol, the museum’s unique architecture is the culmination of many discussions and meetings with Native communities and individuals throughout the Western Hemisphere. The curvilinear design evokes the mesas and canyons of the Southwest and gives the appearance of being weathered by wind and water. The exterior is clad in a Kasota limestone quarried from Minnesota and is a warm buff color that has several finishes to suggest the building grew out of the landscape.

Following the making of the photograph, there will be a private reception inside the museum. Among the speakers will be RIT President Bill Destler and Kevin Gover (Pawnee/Comanche), director of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Also part of the program is Jason Younker (Coquille Indian Tribe), assistant to the provost for Native American relations and RIT assistant professor of anthropology. Younker will offer a Native American blessing.

Two RIT students of Native American descent will present the museum with gifts. Kyleen James, a photo illustration student from RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, will give the museum a photograph she took for a project on Native American dance. James is a member of the Passamaquoddy tribe.

Leah Shenandoah, a metals and jewelry graduate student in RIT’s School for American Crafts, will present the museum with one of her handmade creations. She created a rabbit fur couture hood with sterling etched beads and pearls and a medicine pouch. Shenandoah is a member of the Oneida Iroquois Wolf Clan. The official reception program will culminate with Shenandoah singing with her mother, Joanne Shenandoah, a Grammy-award winning singer, songwriter and performer.

Additional Media Contacts:

Leonda Levchuk
National Museum of the American Indian
(202) 663-6613;

Eileen Maxwell
National Museum of the American Indian
(202) 663-6615;

Media Note: Big Shot organizers, students, university and museum leaders will be available for on-site interviews on the evening of Sept. 26.