Eastman Museum receives NFPF grant to restore three nitrate films

The George Eastman Museum will preserve three rare, endangered nitrate feature films using funds from a more than $70,000 grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

The 35mm prints of The Country Beyond and The Millionaire Vagrant likely are the only versions of the films that exist, museum officials said in a statement this week. The single reel from The Gold Rush, starring Charlie Chaplin, is the only material for the legendary film that survives with the original tinting.

Due to nitrate decomposition in each of the three films, it is the last chance to save the unique prints.

A fourth nitrate film in the Eastman Museum collection, The Oath of the Sword, will be preserved under a separate NFPF grant awarded to the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). The JANM will work in collaboration with the Eastman Museum to preserve this silent film made in the U.S. with an all-Japanese cast. Historians consider it the first Asian American motion picture.

The films are fragile and while decomposition is present in them, they are still viable for photochemical film preservation, and ultimately, digital access. The grant funds will be used for laboratory preservation work at Cinema Arts Laboratory in Newfoundland, Pa., and at Eastman Museum Film Preservation Services in Rochester, including 4K digital scanning and creating a new 35mm negative, a 35mm print and a DCP version of each film.

Upon completion of the project, the films will be available in 35mm prints and digital copies for both research and public screenings through the museum. The project will be overseen by Anthony L’Abbate, preservation manager at the George Eastman Museum.

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Eastman Museum presents free film series in solidarity with Black, Asian/Pacific Islander Americans

This summer, the George Eastman Museum is presenting two free film series in solidarity with Black Americans and Asian/Pacific Islander Americans.

Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Directors began July 1 and runs weekly through Aug. 19. The eight motion pictures that were chosen for screening showcase the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to cinema during the last three decades. Films include “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and more.

Spotlighting Black Film Artists began July 7 and runs weekly through Sept. 1. The nine films, from 1930 to the present, feature achievements by Black actors, directors and screenwriters and include iconic films such as Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” and Gordon Parks’ 1971 classic “Shaft.”

The screenings are open to the public and take place at the Dryden Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

“Our core mission at the Dryden is to share the art of cinema that represents different visions, viewpoints and cultures – not to commemorate more lives lost to hateful violence,” said Bruce Barnes, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director of the George Eastman Museum. “Yet with so much fear, bigotry and discrimination in the world, we will continue to offer films as a powerful means to raise awareness, educate and spark conversation. These special film series, free to all, are one way in which we express our solidarity with peoples and communities under attack.”

The Eastman Museum during the last several years has responded to acts of atrocity by partnering with community organizations to present free film series at the Dryden, officials said. The Dryden was closed from January 2020 until April of this year, so it was unable to present a film series in the aftermath of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, George Floyd and other Black individuals. In the last year, the country has witnessed a surge of violence, harassment and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans.

The first In Solidarity series, Summer of Solidarity, premiered in 2016 and was organized in commemoration of the lives of the victims at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

This year’s series are sponsored by the William & Sheila Konar Foundation, and the Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Directors series also is sponsored by Nocon & Associates.

More information on the two series can be found at Eastman.org/Dryden.

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Eastman Museum to offer virtual workshops

Beginning Friday, March 5, the George Eastman Museum will offer new ways to experience its photographic and moving image process workshops via online opportunities.

The Eastman Museum for decades has provided artists, educators and enthusiasts ways to explore photographic and moving image processes through its onsite Process Workshops that range from how to make a tintype to turning digital negatives into prints. The workshops drew participants from around the world to learn from the museum’s experts.

The new, virtual historic process demonstrations, online workshops and private virtual tutorials will be led by Historic Process Specialist Nick Brandreth.

Friday’s workshop is a process demonstration on how AZO-style paper is made. On April 30, the museum will offer another process workshop focused on making your own 35mm daguerreotypes.

Private virtual tutorials are available to individuals looking for a deep dive and who want a one-on-one instruction experience. The private sessions can be customized based on the individual or group.

More information on the workshops can be found at eastman.org/workshops.

The George Eastman Museum was founded in 1947 and is the world’s oldest photography museum, as well as one of the largest film archives in the U.S. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films and 3 million archival objects related to cinema.

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Eastman Museum installs Colorama for new visitor center opening

As the George Eastman Museum continues its renovations, a reproduction of a Colorama image is being installed adjacent to the museum’s new Thomas Tischer Visitor Center, scheduled to open to the public Oct. 10.

The structure to display the Colorama has been built at the north end of the museum’s parking lot near the new main entrance at the ESL Federal Credit Union Pavilion. The new Colorama is 48 feet wide and more than 14 feet tall and is an 80 percent scale reproduction of the original Colorama that was installed in Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

The first installation is Colorama 531, a photo of Taj Mahal, India by Steve Kelly. (provided)
The first installation is Colorama 531, a photo of Taj Mahal, India by Steve Kelly. (provided)

The Colorama was one of Eastman Kodak Co.’s longest-running advertising campaigns that was first conceived in 1949. The massive backlit transparencies were designed to demonstrate the brilliance of color photography and advertise Kodak color film products to a mass market.

Until 1990, a new Colorama was installed every few weeks, resulting in a total of 565 transparencies. The advertising campaign ended in 1990 as Grand Central Terminal prepared for renovations and each giant transparency was destroyed.

But in 2010, Kodak donated the original photographic negatives, transparencies and guide prints used to create them to the George Eastman Museum, which preserved the objects.

The first installation is Colorama No. 531, a photograph of Taj Mahal, India, by photographer Steve Kelly. The original was installed in Grand Central Terminal in 1986.

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Eastman Museum receives funding for new concourse

The Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Foundation has pledged $350,000 toward George Eastman Museum’s Thomas Tischer Visitor Center. The Wolk Foundation’s gift will be recognized with the dedication of the largest space in the visitor center as the Wolk Concourse.

The Wolk Concourse includes educational and interpretative content that introduces the museum and George Eastman to visitors and leads to the education and meeting hall, the museum café and store, Eastman’s historic mansion and terrace garden, as well as to the museum’s exhibition galleries.

A project rendering of the entire George Eastman Museum visitor center and pavilion.
A project rendering of the entire George Eastman Museum visitor center and pavilion.

“The Wolk Foundation’s community-oriented philanthropy has made important contributions to major capital projects to advance health care, social services and cultural institutions in Rochester,” said Bruce Barnes, the Ron and Donna Fielding director of the museum. “Our institution is grateful and honored that, during this challenging year, the foundation is providing critical support to our project to enhance the experience of all of our visitors.”

The goal of the visitor center is to make the experience of visitors commensurate with the quality and standing of the museum. A new entrance — the ESL Federal Credit Union Pavilion — will be centrally located next to the Dryden Theatre, and the project will improve guest amenities and create a single hub for museum entry, the Dryden Theatre and more.

“The Eastman Museum, a world-class museum of photography and cinema located on George Eastman’s historic estate, is one of Rochester’s treasures,” the Wolk Foundation trustees said. “We are pleased to support the museum’s efforts to enhance its ability to serve our community.”

The visitor center and Wolk Concourse are scheduled to open in October this year.

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Two local organizations awarded humanities grants

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded more than $2.3 million statewide to support local cultural nonprofits and educational programming, including more than $200,000 in awards to two area organizations.

“Nonprofits and cultural organizations are critical parts of the Upstate economy that create jobs and serve vital functions so I am pleased to provide this critical federal support to help them survive through the COVID crisis,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-NY), who led the negotiations to create this stream of funding in the CARES Act. “This federal funding will help New York along its road to recovery from the pandemic and foster communities that are enriched and inspired. The pandemic did not snuff out our thirst for cultural education, nor the jobs in that vital sector, and I’m proud to deliver this critical funding that will feed our communities the cultural nourishment they need.”

In the Finger Lakes Region, George Eastman Museum will receive $135,000 for transforming audience engagement and reach through digital programs, while Roberts Wesleyan College will receive $73,046 for the college’s A.S. Arts & Culture.

“This critical investment in Upstate New York will advance education and humanities research in our communities,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY), said. “Because of the National Endowment for the Humanities, our cultural institutions are able to reach more families and communities with programming that enriches, educates and inspires. As New York communities prepare to reopen, this critical CARES funding is pivotal in the advancement of our education and economy and will help define who we are as a nation. I am proud to have fought for this funding and will continue pushing to fund nonprofits, cultural organizations, and humanities.”

The senators said that Upstate New York will receive nearly 6 percent of the $40.3 million in grants the NEH is allocating this month. New York state as a whole will receive $6,841,387. The grants come from the $75 million in supplemental grant funding the NEH received through the CARES Act.

Nationally, the NEH estimates that the additional grant funding will support projects that will ultimately reach an audience of 137 million people.

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Museum receives National Endowment for the Humanities grant

The George Eastman Museum has received a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support its Preserving and Improving Access to the Boyer Collection project.

The NEH grant, from its Division of Preservation and Access, Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Program, will allow the museum to catalog and digitize the entire Alden Scott Boyer collection, giving the public complete access to images of the objects, and will enable the museum to hire two project staff, a cataloguer and an object photographer, for the term of the grant.

“The Boyer collection is one of the largest and most diverse gatherings of 19th-century British photography outside of the United Kingdom and features photographs by key American figures such as Southworth & Hawes and Carleton Watkins,” said Bruce Barnes, the museum’s Ron and Donna Fielding director. “The collection itself had a profound impact on the genesis and development of the history of photography as a discipline and served as a touchstone for institutional and private collection-building across the continent.”

Boyer, a Chicago-based chemical manufacturer, in 1951 donated his private collection of photographs to the George Eastman Museum. At the time, the Boyer collection represented one of the finest and most extensive private collections of photography in the U.S., and now is one of the most significant public collections in the country for the study of 19th-century life, history and culture.

The project will be overseen by Heather Shannon, associate curator of photography, and is slated for completion by the spring of 2022.

The George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the nation. Located on the historic estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the East Avenue museum was founded in 1947 and is undergoing a host of renovations.

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Massaoke returns to the Fringe Festival with two shows

What’s old is new again this year at the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.

This September the headline act at the Fringe Festival will once again be London-based Massaoke, returning for a second year to offer two different shows on the closing weekend on a new stage on Chestnut Street.

The popular group will present its rock-anthem show, “MixTape,” on Sept. 20, and a new show, “Massaoke: Night at the Musicals,” on Sept. 21, as part of what the festival is calling “Finale Weekend.”

The Fringe Fest runs from Tuesday, Sept 10, to Saturday, Sept. 21.

Festival producers announced the act Monday morning in a “big reveal” event at the George Eastman Museum’s Dryden Theatre.  

Also revealed is “The Memory Palace Live,” a live version of the history-related podcast by Nate DiMeo of Los Angeles, presented in Kilbourn Hall Sept. 19 and 20. The announcement event shared an excerpt of his podcast about Samuel Lindsey Breese Morse, who was led to develop the telegraph and Morse code after rushing home in anticipation of a new child, only to find his wife had died and was buried days earlier.  

Nate DiMeo will do a live version of his podcast, "Memory Palace" to the Fringe Fest. Photo supplied
Nate DiMeo will do a live version of his podcast, “Memory Palace” at the Fringe Fest.

Fringe producer Erica Fee promised that not all of DiMeo’s podcasts are tearjerkers. DiMeo will be creating a site-specific podcast during the festival about Rochester’s history at High Falls.

The Spiegeltent and the Spiegelgarden will return, with a new Cirque du Fringe show, “D’Illusion,”  by entertainers Matt and Heidi Morgan. And in the surrounding garden, local entertainers Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst will expand on their Bushwacked Backyard theme by debuting “Bushwhacked British Bake Off” and “Bushwhacked Boozy British Bake Off.”

In all, some 150 free performances and events will happen, among the total 550 performances in more than 20 venues.

The festival also announced a series of partnerships with organizations and events preceding Fringe, including with the ImageOut film festival, the Rochester Puerto Rican Festival, and a memorial concert for Paul J. Burgett as part of the Gateway Music Festival.  

Organizers said additional announcements will be made at a later date.

[email protected]/(585) 732-7224.  

Eastman Museum to celebrate moon landing anniversary

The George Eastman Museum will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a new rotation in its History of Photography gallery next month.

A photo of the moon's crater, as part of the George Eastman Museum's moon landing exhibition. (Photo provided)
A photo of the moon’s crater, as part of the George Eastman Museum’s moon landing exhibition. (Photo provided)

The May 3 opening will celebrate the anniversary and examine the intersecting histories of photography and space exploration. A selection of objects from the photography collection will range from stereoscopic views made through a telescope, amateur snapshots and scientific documents, as well as artwork by Louis-Jacque-Mande Daguerre, Ansel Adams and others.

A small selection of objects from the technology collection—including the Lunar Orbiter and a design model of the Apollo Lunar Surface Close-Up Camera—also will be on view.

On June 15, the museum will feature “Focus 45: The Moon and Photography” in its Curtis Theatre. Tracy Stuber, the museum’s 2018-2019 Kress Interpretive Fellow, will discuss the selections from the photography collection.

The Eastman Museum also will offer a variety of programs on and around the July 20 anniversary of the moon landing.

The exhibition will remain on view through Oct. 20.

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Julia Roberts to receive George Eastman Award

Julia Roberts (Photo provided)
Julia Roberts
(Photo provided)

Award-winning actress Julia Roberts has been chosen as this year’s winner of the George Eastman Award from the George Eastman Museum. The award will recognize her distinguished contribution to the art of cinema.

In accepting the honor, she will join other film legends such as Lauren Bacall, Charlie Chaplin, Michael Douglas, Martin Scorsese and more. The George Eastman Award was established in 1955 as the first retrospective award to honor film work of enduring artistic value.

“We are thrilled to present Julia Roberts with the George Eastman Award,” said Bruce Barnes, the museum’s Ron and Donna Fielding director. “The depth and breadth of her career and the range of the characters she portrays on screen are a true testament to her natural talents and her well-honed craft.”

Roberts has spent more than three decades in film and has earned four Academy Award nods and an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, as well as nine Golden Globe nominations and three Golden Globes.

Her work ranges from “Steel Magnolias” in 1989 to “Pretty Woman” in 1990 and “Erin Brockovich” in 2000, a role that earned her an Academy Award and her third Golden Globe.

Roberts will accept the George Eastman Award in a ceremony May 2 at the Dryden Theatre. The event will feature a compilation of highlights of her work and a conversation with Roberts, followed by a gala in the museum. Tickets will go on sale to the public March 18, with advance tickets for members beginning March 11.

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