During our visiting artist lecture series Wish You Were Here, Lou Jones shared with us his experiences around the world…
Lisa Kribs-LaPierre's Posts
Lisa Kribs-LaPierre is the former Manager of Online Engagement at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.
This month Google adds more than 1,000 new destinations to experience via street view. It looks like we are one of the first destinations locally (Rochester, N.Y.) to open our doors beyond the street.
This is exciting to us for a few reasons – the first, visitors onsite will now have the opportunity to use their mobile’s to know where they are throughout the house and museum. Secondly, for those that may never come to Eastman House it is an opportunity to invite all to come on in and learn a little bit more about us.
Lastly, we realize as an institution another important aspect for Eastman House is what is going on behind the scenes – our schools (Photographic Preservation and Collections Management & The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation) and students working in the collections, our conservation labs and photo processes and finally, the vaults. We are pleased to reveal our technology vault three floors underground (are we the first museum to do so?)
Eastman House holds nearly 500,000 photographs representing every major process and the work of more than 14,000 photographers. In addition to the photographs, the collection holds important examples of the photograph’s role in our culture over time – including photojournalism, advertising, etc. The Motion Picture Collection is one of the major moving image archives in the U.S.
Eastman House is – and always has been – an independent nonprofit institution. We rely on the support of donors, locally and internationally so we can continue to tell the story of photography and motion pictures.
Our new director Bruce Barnes relays our situation honestly, “Frankly, it is a challenge to fund a non-profit institution of our scope in a metropolitan area of one million. George Eastman House has always been an independent, non-profit institution, but the prevailing economic environment has made fundraising more difficult – creating a shortfall at a critical time“.
Thanks for your consideration and above all else take a look!
Guest post from Heather Harkins, a second year graduate student in the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at George Eastman House
The Roberto Pallme Collection consists of over five hundred reels of 35mm nitrate film and 9.5mm acetate film, initially acquired by a private collector in Italy and now part of the motion picture holdings here at the George Eastman House.
Some of the titles in the collection, like the Douglas Fairbanks comedy Mr. Fix-It (dir. Allan Dwan, 1918), are rare treasures that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In the Selznick program, each student is given the opportunity to pursue a personal project, and I wanted to work independently with a collection of nitrate films that would allow me to look at beautiful images– and the Pallme Collection satisfied all of my requirements.
I spent several weeks at the Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center working under the supervision of brilliant Film Preservation Officer Anthony L’Abbate, and alongside my clever classmate Emily Wall (whose personal project tackled audition footage from Gone With The Wind).
In these first few months, I inspected reels of film, updated our database of information, and added hundreds of titles to the George Eastman House catalog. Twelve reels in the collection were completely unlabeled, so I devoted much of my time to identifying the material on those reels. It was an especially challenging task because each reel had a number of short films or fragments of longer films, and I wanted to identify every single one. One of these fragments was a short excerpt from the film La Revue des Revues (dir. Joe Francis, 1928) that was especially charming because each frame was colored using the Pathecolor stencil process, an early system for applying color to film prints.
By the end of the year, I was able to identify fifty-four titles, and add them to our catalog, but a few still have me baffled. Perhaps one of the blog readers can identify the Technicolor cartoon that features this mysterious cupcake king presiding over a candy kingdom. What film is this, and who made it?
In my second year of study, I decided to continue my work with the collection and make it the focus of the master’s essay (offered in partnership with the U of R).
I have been researching the history of the collection, and tracing its journey from a small community outside Naples, Italy, to Rochester, NY, by way of the Netherlands. I have spoken with incredibly helpful sources, including Oscar Pallme (a relative of Roberto Pallme) as well as freelance film historian Roland Cosandey, and continued to inspect prints from the collection by hand. It has been a joy to study this collection of films, and I appreciate this incredibly rare experience which could only be possible here at George Eastman House.
George Eastman loved orchestral organ music and used it often for entertainment with others. In 1905 he hired the Aeolian Organ Company out of NYC to install what was named the “South Organ”. Then in 1918 he added what we now call the “North Organ” chamber. Throughout the 26 years George Eastman lived in the house the organ continued to expand – adding additional pipes and chambers and eventually creating what was likely the first “in stereo” experience in a private residence.
Several years later, after the house was established as a museum, there was an unfortunate fire that destroyed many of the organ pipes. Since the fire, there had been little interest in restoring the missing organ chamber. That all changed last year when a gentlemen in California (after many conversations) graciously donated his Aeolian 1345 organ to George Eastman House. The donor even covered the cost to ship the instrument across the country and cover final restoration costs (est. six figure donation).
This particular pipe organ is extremely similar to the original. When the project is complete, approximately 2,329 pipes (that’s right, 2,329) will have been installed. Visitors will again be able to hear what George Eastman heard many years ago- an organ that plays like an entire orchestra.
We’re documenting the project and will continue to add to this album throughout. Take a look at some of the large metal and wooden pipes delivered last week. These will continue to be installed over the next few weeks – then the testing and tuning will begin.
via guest contributor, Chris Holmquist
Photographic Process Research Apprentice
In a few weeks, George Eastman House Process Historian, Mark Osterman and team will lead a photography workshop unlike any other; a tintype excursion along the historic Erie Canal.
For three days we will float down the waterway in an authentic canal boat; navigating the step locks, staying overnight in a bed & breakfast and most importantly, stopping along the way to make authentic large-format tintypes on location, using a portable darkroom.
This excursion is modeled after similar trips that took place in the 1860’s by members of the Philadelphia Photograph Exchange Club. Groups like this consisted mostly of ‘gentleman scholars’; men with the benefit of free time, the resources needed to pursue such an involved hobby and an aptitude to make legitimate contributions to an ever evolving science. Outings like a canal trip were an excellent opportunity for amateur photographers to share their techniques, enjoy the surroundings and generally celebrate the wonderful process of making images in a camera.
In that period it was “mule teams”on shore that pulled the canal boats along, and although we will be taking advantage of the internal combustion engine, it’s in the same spirit that we set out to explore the Erie Canal in the first week of June. It’s a rare treat to learn the wet collodion technique from one of the world’s leading authorities, while also getting a chance to forget the modern world for a few days and relive a piece of photography’s past.
UPDATE: The workshop sold out over the weekend, but if interested, please take a look at the rest of our workshops through 2013.
If this sounds like a fantastic opportunity, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s one open spot remaining in our roster!