A History of Photography

October 29, 2016–April 30, 2017, History of Photography Gallery

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    Louis Prélier (French, active Mexico, 1839‑1840). Port of Veracruz, Mexico, December 1839. Daguerreotype. George Eastman Museum, gift of Eastman Kodak Company, ex‑collection Gabriel Cromer.

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    Unidentified maker. Family of three, ca. 1955. Gelatin silver print with applied color mounted on wood, manufactured ca. 1955. George Eastman Museum, purchase with funds from the Ford Motor Company Fund.

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    Alejandro Cartagena (Mexican, b. 1977 Dominican Republic). Three Days of Routine, 2011-2012. From the series Carpoolers. Inkjet print. George Eastman Museum, gift of the photographer. © Alejandro Cartagena

The George Eastman Museum photography collection is among the best and most comprehensive in the world. With holdings that include objects ranging in date from the announcement of the medium’s invention in 1839 to the present day, the collection represents the full history of photography. Works by renowned masters of the medium exist side-by-side with vernacular and scientific photographs. The collection also includes all applications of the medium, from artistic pursuit to commercial enterprise and from amateur pastime to documentary record, as well as all types of photographic processes, from daguerreotypes to digital prints.

The museum's History of Photography Gallery is dedicated to rotating installations that demonstrate photography’s historical trajectory through photographs and cameras drawn from the collection. The selection of photographs changes approximately three times a year, continually refreshing the experience of visiting the Eastman Museum and offering regular opportunities to display the museum’s treasures.

This rotation provides an overview of the history of photography through photographs made in Mexico by known artists, photojournalists, and archaeologists, as well as unidentified tourists and studio photographers from Europe, the United States, and Mexico. The installation begins with an extraordinary daguerreotype that dates to 1839, the year the invention of photography was announced, and ends with a triptych from contemporary Mexican artist Alejandro Cartagena’s critically acclaimed Carpoolers series (2011–2012). Assistant Curator of Photography Heather Shannon curated the rotation. 

Related Events

Saturday, October 29, 2016, 12 p.m.

Talks | Focus 45: Mexico and the Photographic Imagination

One of the oldest photographs in the museum's collection was made in Mexico in 1839. Heather Shannon uses this as a starting point to explore the history of photography through photographs made in Mexico. 

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