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Exploring Animation: Rochester International Academy Phenakistoscope Discovery Project

October 7, 2023–February 25, 2024, Gallery Obscura

The Rochester International Academy (RIA) was founded by the Rochester City School District in 2011 to facilitate the cultural and academic transition of newly arrived English language learners. In 2016, RIA was one of eight schools in the United States to receive the designation as a Gold School of Opportunity as a part of the School of Opportunity project launched by educators who wanted to highlight public high schools that actively seek to close opportunity gaps through research-proven practices, and not standardized test scores. 

Through interdisciplinary learning in collaboration with families, the community, and multi-lingual translators, and support staff, RIA students K-12 attend content-based English language classes daily in all traditional disciplines—English language arts, math, science, and social studies.

RIA students—some of whom had never participated in an art class before—worked with art teacher Ben Rubin for an introduction to the theme of moving images bridging traditional and digital media. They began by developing ideas through writing and illustrating a series of short comics inspired by the graphic novel The Arrival by Shaun Tan. They then expanded the project by experimenting with early animation techniques and exploring historical images. The students created the disks displayed on the walls, which were then photographed and converted into digital animations that can be seen on monitors as well.
Through this project, the students explored multiple artistic media, the optical illusion that makes all forms of animation possible, and their own creativity.

The Eastman Museum invites you to explore their projects in this exhibition, learn more about the history of the phenakistoscope, and experiment with animation on your own. For more hands-on fun and at-home tutorials on making phenakistoscopes and other early animation toys—the thaumatrope, zoetrope, and flip books—please visit the Donna Fielding Discovery Room on the mansion's second floor. Also, look for related educational resources at For Educators: Mansion and Museum Lessons listed under the title of the exhibition. 

Virtual 360 Tour

Explore Exploring Animation: Rochester International Academy Phenakistoscope Discovery Project virtually, complete with all audio, text, and full-size images.

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Navigation tips:

  • Wall text and images are available to view by clicking the teal dots next to the works. To see the work in greater detail, simply click on the image for it to expand to full screen.

About Gallery Obscura

The museum's new Gallery Obscura space features exhibitions created or presented in collaboration with community institutions and school and youth programs, projects focused on Greater Rochester, and exhibitions from the collections that are thematically related to regional events or that support other museum initiatives and programming. 

Generously sponsored by Nocon & Associates 

Exhibition Proposal Submissions 

Please submit exhibition proposals for the Gallery Obscura to Gallery[email protected]. Proposals should briefly describe the project and include 6-10 sample images or links to moving media content. Because of the structure of exhibition scheduling, not all proposals can be considered. Single-artist and artist-organized exhibitions will not be considered.