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One Hundred Years Ago: George Eastman in 1923

March 18, 2023–January 28, 2024, Historic Mansion

This annual display in the historic mansion provides a glimpse of George Eastman’s life and work one hundred years ago. The new selection of objects highlights the goings on in 1923—most notably the release of the Ciné-Kodak and 16mm motion picture film and a 10-week expedition in the Cassiar region of Alaska and British Columbia, which became his favorite camping destination for the remainder of his life. During spring, Eastman returned to Oak Lodge—his retreat in North Carolina—where he continued filming home movies—as he had first done during his fall visit the year prior. The focus of his filming shifted from primarily pre-planned scenes starring Eastman and his friends and instead took more of a spectator approach, documenting rural life at Oak Lodge.

In July of 1923, George Eastman entered the final year of his 60s. He spoke increasingly of his readiness to retire and began to take the first steps toward transferring daily responsibility for running Kodak to trusted executives. He expressed that he felt most fulfilled while tweaking the Eastman Theatre, Eastman School of Music, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, as he worked to broaden appeal for Rochester’s leisure seekers. In late summer, Eastman embarked on a hunting and camping expedition in the northern reaches of British Columbia, which he called “perfectly gorgeous in its fall colorings; the finest I have ever seen.” At home, Herro the guard dog joined Eastman: his first pet since childhood. Eastman had quickly grown fond of the dog, whom he called “a strong character.” During his short tenure, Herro took breakfast with Mr. Eastman every morning.

See objects from the collection related to these and other aspects of George Eastman’s life in 1923, beginning March 18 and on view throughout the year, in the Sitting Room. A selection of digitized home movie footage is on display in the George Eastman Study Center, at the end of the second-floor corridor.