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Director's Note: Looking Back and Forward

During my first year as director at George Eastman House, I have witnessed firsthand the countless ways that our staff, trustees, and supporters contribute to our three critical missions: preserving our worldclass collections, serving the Rochester community, and being a leader in the fields of photography and moving images.

Looking back on 2013, I am extremely proud of our accomplishments, from reopening the renovated Dryden Theatre to returning surround-sound organ music to George Eastman’s home, from restoring the first film made by a legendary director to exhibiting extraordinary photographs by leading contemporary artists.

The renovation of the Dryden reinforces our dedication to cinema as a special event for visitors and our status as a premier venue for moving images. We maintain our commitment to honor the creative choices of filmmakers, acknowledging the rise of digital formats, while continuing to showcase historic film prints.

In August, along with two Italian film organizations and the National Film Preservation Foundation, we announced the discovery and restoration of the long-lost film directed by Orson Welles, Too Much Johnson (1938). Our renowned preservation staff was able to save this cinematic treasure. In October, the film had its world premiere in Pordenone, Italy, with three sold-out screenings, and its North American premiere here at the Dryden.

For the first time in over sixty years, surround-sound organ music fills George Eastman’s home. Thanks to the tremendous generosity of Dr. Richard Zipf and extraordinary efforts by museum staff, volunteers, and Parsons Organ Pipe Builders, guests can enjoy music played from both the south and north organ chambers, as Mr. Eastman intended.

Two new staff positions—Manager of Exhibitions and Programs and Manager of Traveling Exhibitions—are essential to bringing our collections to the public in Rochester and around the world. I eagerly anticipate announcing, in the coming month, the appointment of an extraordinarily gifted curator for the critical position of leading our Department of Photographs.

Our summer exhibition, The Gender Show, featured more than 150 photographs from our collection, as well as about fifty loaned works by significant contemporary artists never before represented in our galleries. We are committed to exhibitions and scholarship based on our incomparable collections and to developing our collection of contemporary works.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Kodak camera, and the sixtieth of CinemaScope. As 2013 draws to a close, two focused exhibitions celebrate these great innovations that have roots right here in Rochester.

Our retrospective of Lewis Hine photographs is bringing our collection to the world. After traveling to four European cities, the exhibition is now at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, on view through January 12, 2014. A version of this sought-after show will be the centerpiece of exhibitions at George Eastman House in summer 2014.

Despite our substantial accomplishments, we are continually met with challenges. We must urgently replace part of the Dryden Theatre’s roof. The “permanent” exhibits in many of our galleries must be thoughtfully changed, and our rotating galleries need refurbishment. Capital maintenance needs are a constant concern for the 108-year-old historic house. We must continue to upgrade our outmoded information technology.

We will resolutely address these issues while celebrating our achievements.

Now, it is time to thank you. Our accomplishments are your accomplishments. Your generosity and friendship have made it possible for this museum to continue as a leader in the fields of photography and moving images and to share the story of George Eastman, a great innovator and philanthropist. I humbly ask for your continued support in meeting the considerable challenges that lie ahead. Please join me in making a year-end gift to George Eastman House—whether in the form of renewing or upgrading your membership, or by making an additional donation to the museum’s year-end appeal.

Thank you again for appreciating the importance of supporting this important institution. We hope that you will visit us soon and see our progress. My best wishes to you and your loved ones for a healthy and prosperous new year.

Bruce Barnes, Ph.D.
Ron and Donna Field Director
November/December 2013 Bulletin