As custodians of the collections at George Eastman House part of our mandate is to make sure the material in our care is preserved for future generations. This tenet has been drilled into my brain since my education began, but regardless of my status as museum worker, it has never been easy for me to throw away or destroy a photograph.
Recently I was doing some housekeeping in the Department of Photographs and came across a box of 8 x 10 copy prints made at GEH back before digital. The prints were nice gelatin silver copies of authentic Ansel Adams photographs held in the collection, and were probably made for a curator to aid in planning an exhibition or publication. What do we do with them?
They are not collection material and and we would not want them to show up outside the museum and be mistaken for original Ansel Adams photographs. So after some hesitation, and perhaps a little soul searching, I decided to shred them. And it was kind of fun.
Jessica Johnston is an Assistant Curator in the Department of Photographs at George Eastman House. She manages numerous exhibitions and projects at the museum including our recent participation on the Flickr Commons.
2 Responses to “Destroying Photographs?”