The George Eastman House is the world’s oldest museum of photography, occupying the former residence of George Eastman, inventor of roll film and founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. The Museum opened in 1949, and to the present day has been known for its archives of photography and motion pictures; it is also known as a leader in film preservation and photograph conservation, playing a role in the development of and education in those fields. The Eastman house and surrounding estate, donated to the University of Rochester on the owner’s passing in 1932, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
The Museum’s original collection included the Medicus collection of Civil War photography by Alexander Gardner, the Eastman Kodak Company’s historical collection, and the large Gabriel Cromer collection. In the decades since, the collection grew exponentially, such that in the 1980s the Museum constructed a 73,000 square foot archives building, which opened to the public in 1989. The Museum now houses over 400,000 photographs and negatives, 23,000 films and over 5 million film stills, 43,000 publications and over 25,000 pieces of film technology.
In 1996 and 1997, respectively, the Eastman Museum opened centers for education in film conservation (Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center in Chili, NY) and motion picture preservation (L. Jeffery Selznick School of Film Preservation). Also, in 1999 the Museum established a residency fellowship for the top film archivists in the country. Additional points of interest include the estate’s recently restored 12.5-acre historic gardens and the Dryden Theater, which showcases films from the Museum’s expansive motion picture archives.
George Eastman House Information
- Public Transportation: Fair (accessible by a number of public bus routes)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good, with some limitations (see website)
- Hours: Tues, Weds, Fri, Sat 10 am-5 pm; Thursday 10 am-8 pm; Sunday 1-5 pm; Closed Mondays and Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.
- Admission: Adults, $10; Seniors, $8; Students, $6; Children (5-12), $4; Members/Children 4 & under, free.
- Tours: A number of tours are offered of the Eastman House, Gardens and current exhibitions, as well as docent- and self-guided tours for adults, school groups and youth groups. Admission rates are reduced for group tours.
- Memberships: Individual annual membership is $50 ($35 Students, $70 Dual/Household); benefits include free admission, guest passes to Museum and Dryden Theater film passes, Store and event discounts, exhibition previews, special events, and more.