Partnerships and other forms of collaboration play an essential role in enabling the George Eastman Museum to broaden its activities and to extend its reach beyond Rochester.
Among the Eastman Museum’s most important partnerships are those with the University of Rochester in the field of graduate education. This year is the twentieth anniversary of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, the first school of its kind in the United States. We established a joint graduate program in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management (PPCM) with Ryerson University in Toronto about ten years ago. Two years ago, we shifted our partnership in this field to the University of Rochester to take advantage of its proximity to the museum and its strong art history department. Through these two graduate programs— each a pioneer in its field—the Eastman Museum has made a lasting contribution to the preservation and study of film and photography. Both programs draw applicants from around the world, and graduates of each have gone on to hold leading positions in their fields.
Collaboration has long played a role also in our publishing activities. In the coming twelve months, the Eastman Museum will release three books in collaboration with Aperture Foundation, one of the leading publishers of photography books. Picturing America’s National Parks and The Photographer’s Cookbook are both due out this June. A book inspired by In the Garden, our summer 2015 exhibition, will be published later this year. Our partnership with Aperture is enabling the museum to publish several books in quick succession. In addition, the Eastman Museum will independently publish A Matter of Memory: Photography as Object in the Digital Age, the catalogue for the museum’s major exhibition this fall.
Museums often collaborate on exhibitions to share expertise, combine resources, and reach a broader audience. The Eastman Museum has partnered with the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City to organize and present Sight Reading: Photography and the Legible World— consisting predominantly of photographs selected from our collection. The exhibition is on view at the Morgan through May 30 and at the Eastman Museum from June 18 to September 18 (see page 5).
Since becoming the collecting institution with the largest holdings of contemporary Indian films, we have been actively engaged in developing relationships with film archives in South Asia. Six members from the moving image and conservation departments were invited to participate in a preservation workshop in India earlier this year. The ten-day workshop was organized by the National Film Archive of India, the Film Heritage Foundation, and the International Federation of Film Archives, in association with the George Eastman Museum, the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, and L’Immagine Ritrovata. Our participation in this event was the start of numerous new relationships that will serve both our museum and Indian institutions as we continue to process and build our South Asian cinema collection. The museum’s expenses for the trip were underwritten by the Indian government.
The second Nitrate Picture Show (April 29 to May 1), our festival of film conservation, is made possible by our ongoing dialogue with other collecting institutions. This year, film prints from the museum’s own collection are supplemented by prints loaned by the Academy Film Archive, the Anthology Film Archives, the British Film Institute, the Cinémathèque suisse, the Filmoteca de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
In May, two silent films from our collection will be screened at the second annual Bentonville Film Festival in Arkansas. The festival’s theme is to champion women and diverse voices in media, and its first year was a great success. Beasts of the Jungle (Edward Warren, US 1913) was produced by Alice Guy-Blaché, a pioneering filmmaker who during her 25-year career, starting in 1896, directed four hundred films and co-directed, wrote, or produced more than a hundred more. Borderline (Kenneth Macpherson, Switzerland 1930), starring Paul Robeson, is a bold silent feature about an interracial extramarital affair. Macpherson’s avant-garde approach made daring use of montage to underscore the psychological motivations of his characters. The partnership with the festival supported the digitization of these two prints. In conjunction with the Bentonville Film Festival, the Eastman Museum is lending a wonderful selection of fourteen photographs of legendary actresses to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, also in Bentonville, from April 20 to July 18 (see page 11).
The George Eastman Museum is committed to the preservation, study, and exhibition of photographic and cinematic works of artistic and cultural significance in Rochester and around the world, and we will continue to develop partnerships and collaborations to advance our mission.
Bruce Barnes, Ph.D.
Ron and Donna Fielding Director
May/June 2016 Bulletin