Video to be added soon.
We’re all trying to understand ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
The ways we express ourselves carry our stories through decades and over continents. Stories are how we connect with each other across time and space and cultures.
Photography and cinema open new pathways for storytelling.
For nearly two hundred years, photographs and moving images have inspired us and spurred us to action. They have made it possible to see distant parts of the world—and even the universe—and to connect with others across generations. They have filled us with awe, entertained us, and challenged us.
These visual stories remind us who we are and help us understand what it means to be human—in the past, the present, and the future.
Here at the George Eastman Museum, you’ll see photographs and films in the ways they were originally made and meant to be seen.
In an exhibition gallery, when you encounter a daguerreotype, for example, it’s a unique image. Meaning that this plate from 1840 is the very plate that was in the camera in the earliest days of photography—and here it is, right in front of you, today.
Watching a movie in a theater is immersive: the image fills your field of view and the story pulls you in. And it’s communal: you share the event with everyone else in the theater. Seeing an original film print deepens that experience by connecting you to all of the audiences that have seen those reels projected before.
The fact that photography is a part of our everyday lives owes a lot to George Eastman. He helped to make photography easy and accessible. Here, in the place where he lived, we tell the story of how photography evolved from a specialized profession and exclusive hobby to one of our primary means of communication and expression.
We’re not just photography galleries or just a movie theater or just a historic house. More than any one of those individually, we tell the whole story. Here, you’ll find yourself at the intersection of history, science, and art.
All the ways that photography and cinema are part of our lives are reflected in our collections: art, travel, fashion, documentary, scientific, experimental, industrial, personal.
In our collections, we have photographs and the types of cameras that made them. We have photographers’ notes and artists’ books, and the equipment for developing photographs. And we teach how to make photographs with all kinds of processes today.
We have original camera negatives of major motion pictures, and we have preserved prints of films that would otherwise be lost. We have projectors and movie cameras, and the tools used to make early color film. And we have the posters and celebrity portraits that promoted the movies.
As a museum, we have these collections in our care—but they are all of ours. We collect, exhibit, conserve, and preserve to keep these stories present and alive for everyone.
New ideas emerge from looking at films and photographs. As we look at these stories we’ve told visually for the past two centuries, we seek out new understandings of where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we might go.