Sixty years ago today — on Nov. 9, 1949 — George Eastman House opened its doors to the public. Among the guests welcomed that day by the founding board of directors were Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, and Mary Pickford. And, in a way, these celebrated artists have never left, as we preserve their legacies in our photography and motion picture archives.
Above: Actress Mary Pickford is interviewed by WHAM Radio with General Pershing looking on.
Opening day of George Eastman House garnered international attention. Events were captured on a newsreel that ran in movie theaters worldwide.
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Above: Thomas J. Hargrave, president of Kodak, cuts the ribbon of film on the opening day of George Eastman House, Nov. 9, 1949. Esteemed guests included movie stars Mary Pickford and photographers Edward Steichen and Ansel Adams.
Eastman House was the first institution to celebrate photography as an art form, and to collect and preserve motion pictures long before film preservation was a hot topic in Hollywood.
And in the 60 years since, George Eastman House has been celebrated for its elegant architecture and gardens, visiting movie stars and famous photographers, efforts on behalf of the media that it champions, and—never forgotten—for the generous and successful man for whom the Museum is named. Happy Birthday, George Eastman House – literally and virtually the world’s museum of photography and motion pictures.
Dresden Engle is the Public Relations Manager for George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.