The George Eastman Museum, also referred to as George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, the world's oldest museum dedicated to photography and one of the world's oldest film archives, opened to the public in 1949 in Rochester, New York.
George Eastman Museum
|Location||900 East Avenue, Rochester, New York, United States|
1949 (museum opened)
|Architect||J. Foster Warner|
McKim, Mead and White (interiors)
|Architectural style||Georgian Revival|
|NRHP reference No.||66000529|
|Added to NRHP||November 13, 1966|
|Designated NHL||November 13, 1966|
World-renowned for its collections in the fields of photography and cinema, the museum is also a leader in film preservation and photograph conservation, educating archivists and conservators from around the world. Home to the 500-seat Dryden Theatre, the museum is located on the estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak Company. The estate was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
The Rochester estate of George Eastman (1854–1932) was bequeathed upon his death to the University of Rochester. University presidents (first Benjamin Rush Rhees, then Alan Valentine) occupied Eastman's mansion as a residence for ten years. In 1948, the university transferred the property to the museum and the Georgian Revival Style mansion was adapted to serve the museum's operations.
George Eastman House was chartered as a museum in 1947. From the outset, the museum's mission has been to collect, preserve, and present the history of photography and film. The museum opened its doors on November 9, 1949, displaying its core collections in the former public rooms of Eastman's house. In October 2015, the museum changed its name from George Eastman House to the George Eastman Museum.
The museum's original collections included the Medicus collection of Civil War photographs by Alexander Gardner, Eastman Kodak Company's historical collection, and the massive Gabriel Cromer collection of nineteenth-century French photography. The Eastman Museum has received donations of entire archives, corporate and individual collections, and the estates of leading photographers, as well as thousands of motion pictures and massive holdings of cinematic ephemera.
But by July 19, 1984, the museum had a $500,000 deficit, and the museum's holdings were considered by many to be among the world's finest, but with the collections growing at a rapid pace, the museum was increasingly burdened by its own success. Additional space became critical to store and study the increasing number of collected objects.
In 1985, the Smithsonian Institution was offered title, and control, if it agreed to leave the Eastman Archives in Rochester and pay $1 million a year towards maintenance. The Smithsonian would appoint the director and staff and set curatorial policies.
In 1985, Kodak gave the Museum an endowment, the proceeds of the sale of its San Francisco office building, worth $13 million to $15 million on condition that it remain in Rochester, and the trustees must raise the money to build or renovate in Rochester.
In January 1989, the museum's expansion facility opened to the public.
In 1996, the museum opened the Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center in nearby Chili. One of only four film conservation centers in the United States (as of March 2006), the facility houses the museum's rare 35 mm prints made on cellulose nitrate. That same year, the Eastman House launched the first school of film preservation in the United States to teach restoration, preservation, and archiving of motion pictures. The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation was founded with support from The Louis B. Mayer Foundation.
In 1999, the George Eastman Museum launched the Mellon Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation, made possible with grant support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program trained top photograph archivists and conservators from around the world.
George Eastman Museum has organized numerous groundbreaking exhibitions, including New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape in 1975.
|Oscar N. Solbert||1947–1958|
|Van Deren Coke||1971–1972|
|Robert J. Doherty||1972–1981|
|Robert A. Mayer||1981–1989|
|James L. Enyeart||1989–1995|
Board of TrusteesEdit
The George Eastman Museum is headed by a board of trustees. Kevin Gavagan is the current chair of board.
The George Eastman Museum's annual budget is approximately $10 million. As of December 2014, its endowment exceeded $35 million.
The museum's holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs and negatives dating from the invention of photography to the present day; 28,000 motion picture films; three million other cinematic objects, including letters, scripts, musical scores, lobby cards, posters, film stills, and celebrity portraits; more than 16,000 objects of photographic and cinematographic technology; an internationally renowned research collection of books, periodicals, and other materials on photography and moving images; and George Eastman's home furnishings and decorative arts, personal and business correspondence, private library, photographs, negatives, films, and related personal items.
The photography collection embraces numerous landmark processes, objects of great rarity, and monuments of art history that trace the evolution of the medium as a technology, as a means of scientific and historical documentation, and as one of the most potent and accessible means of personal expression of the modern era. More than 14,000 photographers are represented in the collection, including virtually all the major figures in the history of the medium. The collection includes original vintage works produced by nearly every process and printing medium employed. Notable holdings include:
- One of the world's largest collection of daguerreotypes, including more than 1,000 by Southworth & Hawes
- A major collection of nineteenth-century photographs of the American West by photographers including Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, and William Henry Jackson
- A major collection of ca. 1890s–1910s glass negatives from French photojournalist Charles Chusseau-Flaviens
- The photographic estates of Lewis Hine, Edward Steichen, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Nickolas Muray and Victor Keppler
- A major collection of Ansel Adams’ early and vintage prints
The museum's collection includes works by leading contemporary artists, including Andy Warhol, Candida Höfer, David Levinthal, Cindy Sherman, Adam Fuss, Vik Muniz, Gillian Wearing, Ori Gersht, Mickalene Thomas, Chris McCaw, and Matthew Brandt.
Moving image collectionEdit
The George Eastman Museum Motion Picture Collection is one of the major moving image archives in the United States. It was established in 1949 by the first curator of film, James Card (1915–2000) who helped to build the George Eastman Museum as a leading force in the field with holdings of over 25,000 titles and a collection of stills, posters and papers with over 3 million artifacts. The George Eastman Museum's collection includes the complete moving-image works of William Kentridge.
George Eastman Legacy CollectionEdit
This collection includes George Eastman's house and the George Eastman Archive and Study Center. Opened in April 1999, the George Eastman Archive and Study Center contains Eastman's personal possessions and documents pertaining to Kodak's early history. It has over half a million items within its climate controlled vault. The archive is accessible from the second floor of the house. Items within the house itself include fragments of Eastman's coffin, a mounted elephant head, and an Aeolian pipe organ.
On May 30, 1978, a two-alarm fire affecting four buildings resulted in the loss of some rare movie films and still photographs in the collection, though not as bad as originally feared.
George Eastman AwardsEdit
The George Eastman Museum established the George Eastman Award for distinguished contribution to the art of film in 1955 as the first award given by an American film archive and museum to honor artistic work of enduring value.
- 1965 - Fred Astaire (Actor)
- 1973 - Johnny Weissmuller (Actor)
- 1975 - Blanche Sweet (Actor)
- 1976 - George Cukor (Director), Karl Struss (Cinematographer)
- 1978 - James Stewart (Actor), Willard Van Dyke (Director)
- 1982 - Joan Bennett (Actor), Louise Brooks (Actor), Dolores del Río (Actor), Myrna Loy (Actor), Maureen O'Sullivan (Actor), Luise Rainer (Actor), Sylvia Sidney (Actor)
- 1987 - Gregory Peck (Actor)
- 1990 - Lauren Bacall (Actor)
- 1992 - Audrey Hepburn (Actor)
- 1994 - Martin Scorsese (Filmmaker)
- 1997 - Isabella Rossellini (Actor)
- 1999 - Meryl Streep (Actor)
- 2003 - Kim Novak (Actor)
- 2012 - Richard Gere (Actor, Activist)
- 2013 - Roger Corman (Director, Producer, Distributor)
- 2015 - Michael Douglas (Actor, Producer)
- 2016 - Michael Keaton (Actor)
- 2017 - Vittorio Storaro (Cinematographer)
- 2019 - Julia Roberts (Actor, Producer)
George Eastman's EstateEdit
George Eastman built his residence at 900 East Avenue between 1902 and 1905. He created a unique urban estate complete with 10.5 acres (42,000 m2) of working farm land, formal gardens, greenhouses, stables, barns, pastures, and a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2), 50-room Colonial Revival mansion with a fireproof structure made of reinforced concrete.
Eastman's house presented a neoclassical Georgian Revival facade of decorative craftsmanship. Beneath this exterior were such modern conveniences as an electrical generator, an internal telephone system with 21 stations, a built-in vacuum cleaning system, a central clock network, an elevator, and a great Aeolian pipe organ. Eastman used the house as a center of the city's rich musical life from 1905 until his death in 1932.
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