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George Eastman Museum to install monumental Colorama

The reproduction is part of the Thomas Tischer Visitor Center project, scheduled to open to the public on October 10

Rochester, N.Y., October 2, 2020—The George Eastman Museum is installing a reproduction of a Colorama image adjacent to its new Thomas Tischer Visitor Center. The public opening of the Tischer Visitor Center and the Colorama will be on Saturday, October 10.

The structure to display the Colorama has been built at the north end of the museum’s parking lot, near the museum’s new main entrance at the ESL Federal Credit Union Pavilion. The new Colorama—48 feet wide by 14.4 feet tall—is an 80 percent scale reproduction of the original Colorama that was installed in Grand Central Terminal in New York.

The Colorama was one of Eastman Kodak Company’s longest-running advertising campaigns. First conceived in 1949, these massive backlit transparencies were designed to demonstrate the brilliance of color photography and advertise Kodak color film products to a mass market. Between 1950 and 1990, a new Colorama was installed every few weeks, resulting in a total of 565 colossal transparencies. The Colorama advertising campaign ended in 1990 as Grand Central Terminal prepared for renovations that would restore the original architectural integrity of the landmark building.

Each giant transparency was destroyed after display, but in 2010 the Eastman Kodak Company donated the original photographic negatives, transparencies, and guide prints used to create them to the George Eastman Museum, which has carefully preserved these objects.

This first installation is Colorama No. 531 (Taj Mahal, India), photographed by Steve Kelly (American, b. 1949) and installed in Grand Central Terminal from June 2 to July 9, 1986. It is a reproduction of the image from an original transparency.

Waldo B. (Pete) Potter, the visionary Vice President of Eastman Kodak Company, imagined and realized the series of Colorama images that were installed in Grand Central Terminal in New York City from 1950 to 1964. In his memory, the permanent structure for this Colorama display and the installation of this first Colorama image have been generously donated by the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation.

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