It was quite by chance in the spring of 2014 that we discovered that we could enjoy the «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» exhibition fairly close to home, right near the Pays du Mont-Blanc! I had always enjoyed visiting the London-based exhibition at the Natural History Museum (*NB «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» competition/exhibition is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London*), and was excited to find the exhibition just a short drive away.
It was Easter weekend and we had decided to escape the rain of France, and found a last-minute deal at the the Hôtel Village in Quart, Aosta . . . the rain of France turned into a snowstorm as we emerged from the Mont-Blanc tunnel into Italy, and our elder son came down with fever on our first night there, leaving us hotel-bound for a day (with one three year old and a newborn!) . . . but once back on form, we were happy to find a leaflet about the «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» exhibition at the nearby Forte di Bard . . .
Until then, we hadn’t been aware that the majestic fortress that we had regularly driven past over the years on our way up and down the Aosta Valley was – in fact – the wonderful Forte di Bard, an old military fortress that has been renovated and made into a cultural centre, hosting temporary exhibitions as well as permanent museums!
History of the «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» competition
The «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» competition began back in 1965, and originally there were just three competition categories and about 500 entries. Over the years, the importance of the competition grew and in 1984 the Natural History Museum became involved . . . fast forward another 30 odd years, and we are into the 53rd incarnation of this nature event. Today, thousands of entries arrive from nearly 100 countries worldwide, and there is a young photographer category. The principal exhibition is held at the Natural History Museum in London, and the exhibition also tours the world. In addition, the photos are shown on the «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» website and appear in leading publications worldwide, and hence the photos are seen by millions and many become iconic. See website to read more about the competition.
2017 – the 53rd edition of «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» competition
Though it is now 2018, the Forte di Bard exhibits the winning photos from the 2017 edition of the «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» competition. Here are a couple of the winning photos from the competition:
«Wildlife Photographer of the Year» exhibition at the Forte di Bard
Ever since our first visit to the Forte di Bard four years ago – to first and foremost see the «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» exhibition – (and every year since!) I have been won over by the choice of location . . . it seems to me the perfect spot to put on an exhibition celebrating (and also highlighting the delicate balance of) nature and wildlife. From the top of the Forte di Bard (the temporary exhibitions are located at the top of the Forte di Bard), one cannot help but be struck by the majesty of the surrounding nature – the powerful Dora Baltea river below, the snowy mountain peaks in the distance . . . and yet one is also reminded of the military history of the fortress, and the impact of man on the environment. For me, the transformation of the Forte di Bard from fortress into cultural centre is a juxtoposition that highlights change and helps to promote a hopeful future.
A visit to this exhibition is also a day out in the Aosta Valley . . . as a family, you can combine the visit with the other highlights of the Forte di Bard:
- there is plenty of space to run;
- there is a small outdoor climbing wall;
- there are great views;
- there are funiculars, which are fun;
- there are modern art sculptures adorning the fortress;
- there are museums to visit within the fortress (the Museum of the Alps, the Children’s Museum of the Alps, and more);
- there is another current exhibition to enjoy: «Luci del Nord. Impressionismo in Normandia», running until 17th June 2018;
- there is a cafeteria/restaurant on-site, Caffetteria di Gola;
- the pretty village of Bard sits just below the fortress;
*For more information about the Forte di Bard, see MBFF post.*
Opening hours of Forte di Bard / «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» exhibition:
Tuesday to Friday: 10h to 18h;
Weekends: 10h to 19h;
CLOSED on Mondays;
Price of «Wildlife Photographer of the Year» exhibition:
Seniors (over 65s) and students: 7€;
Children (6–18 years): 5€;
FREE for children under 6 years;
*To see prices of other museums/exhibition at the Forte di Bard, see here:
Forte di Bard
1020 Bard (AO)
Tel: +39 0125 833811
Parking: there is a paying car park right at the foot of Forte di Bard, but if you don’t mind a short walk, then there is the FREE Lieron car park along the SS26. We have tried both options!