Annie Leibovitz is a photography icon, an institution. She is the “eye of a generation,” “one of the most (insert positive adjective here) photographers in the world.”

But she is also a person — a daughter, a lover, a sister, a mother — with a private life that has long been relegated to the shadows by a superstar career that began with her 13-year run as Rolling Stone’s chief photographer.

That private life will finally come forward and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Leibovitz’s famous portraits in a traveling exhibition that kicks off at the Brooklyn Museum this October.

“Annie really wanted … people to get the sense that she has a life, her family or relationship with Susan [Sontag], that those things were happening simultaneously while she was taking photos of the president and celebrities,” explains Matthew Yokobosky, the museum’s chief designer.

Tour Schedule with tentative dates: Brooklyn Museum Oct 20, 2006-Jan 21, 2007 San Diego Museum of Art, Feb 10-April 22, 2007 High Museum of Art, Atlanta May 12-Sept 9, 2007 Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C. Oct 13, 2007-Jan 13, 2008 de Young Museum, San Francisco Feb 9-May 11, 2008 Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris June-Sept 2008 National Portrait Gallery, London Oct 2008-Jan 2009 Additional venues to be announced.

The exhibition, “Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990 – 2005,” is a companion to the eponymous book, Leibovitz’s latest retrospective, which Random House is scheduled to release Oct. 3.

“I think it’s a moment where she’s very interested in reflecting on what went on during those years,” Yokobosky says of the 15-year span that began the year after Leibovitz met the distinguished writer Susan Sontag, who became her intimate companion. In 2004 Leibovitz lost Sontag and her father; in 2005 she became the mother of twins by a surrogate mother.

The more than 200 photographs in the Brooklyn Museum exhibit, pared down from the book’s 340, are arranged chronologically to stress the simultaneity of Leibovitz’s private and public milestones. Thus a picture of the photographer with her family on the beach will flank her famous photo of a pregnant Demi Moore.

Leibovitz’s private photos, which have never been seen publicly before, will be printed in small 4X6 format, prompting viewers to come closer to the intimate images. The public images, which include more political shots such as from the early ’90s siege of Sarajevo, will be larger, with 12 mural-size prints.

“I was surprised by how much work she’s done that is more political,” Yakobosky admitted, guessing that Leibovitz’s relationship with Sontag had been a catalyst for that new direction. “I think that along with the private photos those are going to be kind of a surprise.”