Climbers leave their suspended camp on the Dawn Wall of Yosemite’s El Capitan, an image on view at the "@NATGEO: The Most Popular Instagram Photos" exhibition. (Corey Rich / National Geographic)

When it comes to the most popular accounts on Instagram, celebrities have it sewn up (Selena Gomez is queen of them all with 102.5 million followers). But solidly in the top 15 — and one of the top accounts not attached to an individual — is one from that esteemed 19th-century institution National Geographic.

The same excitement and wonder that the National Geographic Society brought to its magazines more than a century ago shines vividly on Instagram under the username @natgeo, with some of the world’s most accomplished nature and adventure photographers contributing images adapted for the site’s square format.

Some of those photos are being celebrated in a new book and exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington called “@NatGeo: The Most Popular Instagram Photos.” Two-thirds of the photos from the book are featured in the innovative, often interactive exhibition, which opened Nov. 11 in conjunction with FotoWeekDC.

These candy-colored homes in Port-au-Prince exemplify both the vibrancy and poverty of Haiti; on view at "@NATGEO: The Most Popular Instagram Photos" exhibit. (Ed Kashi/National Geographic)

Here’s a look at the show, through what the Internet loves best, metrics:


Number of years that National Geographic has had an Instagram account.


Posting on the @natgeo Instagram site was a photograph by Conrad Anker climbing in Kathmandu. It is not part of the new exhibition.

63 million

Number of @natgeo followers as of press time.


Rank of @natgeo overall in number of followers at press time — still ahead of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian.


Number of posts on @natgeo as of press time.

12 million

Approximate number of images in the National Geographic archives.

Inspiring rangers are hand-raising three baby rhinos at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya; on view at "@NATGEO: The Most Popular Instagram Photos" exhibit. (Ami Vitale/National Geographic)

Number of images in the exhibition.


Categories in which the images are organized, in the book and the exhibition: wanderlust, curiosity, beauty and marvel.

1.1 million

Number of likes for a single picture in the exhibition, a shot of the 2015 supermoon — a full moon on its closest lunar path to Earth.


Number of comments on the photo of the supermoon, taken by Keith Ladzinski during a lunar eclipse over Glacier National Park in Montana.

1 billion

Number of likes the @natgeo site surpassed in May 2015.


Rank of panda as most popular animal among National Geographic Instagrams. It has appeared in five of its 14 most popular images.


Number of panda images in Ami Vitale’s striking shot of a feeding at a conservation center in China — one real, one in a costume.


Number of human skulls in the grim photo by Mark Leong, from the headhunting past of the Naga tribe of northeast India.


Number of photographers allowed to post on the National Geographic Instagram account.


Number of photographers represented in the exhibition.


Highest rank of a photographer in the exhibition: Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, for his bird’s-eye view of fog enveloping Dubai.


Number of years from the founding of National Geographic magazine in 1888 to the publishing of its first photo layout in 1905.


Number of National Geographic Society board members who resigned in disgust in 1906 over the use of photographs, fearing the magazine was turning into a “picture book.”


Height, in feet, of an oversize smartphone showing Instagram images, at the start of the exhibition.


Approximate number of annual visitors to the National Geographic Museum in Washington.

@NatGeo: The Most Popular Instagram Photos Through April 30 at the National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St. NW. $15. 202-857-7588.