Stacey VanDenburgh's Posts

Stacey VanDenburgh is Manager of the Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center at George Eastman House.

What’s Behind the Glass Wall?

Posted by on Jul 09 2011 | Behind The Scenes

Any visitor who comes in through the main entrance of George Eastman House will notice a large glass wall to the left. Through this glass you can see the Richard & Ronay Menschel Library, curatorial departments such as Motion Pictures, Photography and Technology, and a staircase that leads down to two more floors. While you don’t need to make an appointment to visit the Library (especially this summer, when due to a shelving project we are all enjoying a rare treat of the Library’s photo and cinema books and magazines temporarily relocated to our Entrance Gallery), you do need to make one to visit the archives that contain our spectacular collections.

 From time to time, we host visitors where I work: the Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center. A few weeks ago we took a small group of friends interested in preservation ‘behind the glass’ and one floor down for a special tour of the photograph conservation laboratory. The purpose of this visit was to raise awareness of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s challenge grant.  Here’s some of what they saw:



A view of the Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center.


 An accelerated tarnish experiment testing daguerreotype enclosures.



The Conservator’s tools of the trade.


Conservation practices at Eastman House are critical to the care of photographs we have in the collection, exhibit in our galleries, or loan out to other museums. When the department was established in 1974, it was the first of its kind dedicated solely to photograph conservation. For nearly 40 years, our conservators, fellows, and interns have contributed to the preservation of history and culture — through photographic objects — at Eastman House and at institutions around the world.

In the Whitmore Conservation Center, we conduct research and report findings on Notes on Photographs , in journals or at conferences. We also hold workshops on historic photo processes for collectors, artists, curators, members or anyone interested in the history of photography (we even get a chance to go one more floor down to see choice examples in our photography collection). Eastman House is helping to ensure that photographs made since the beginning of the medium in 1839 through today will exist for as long as possible in order to visually tell our collective stories— and its these stories we love to share and discover behind the glass wall.

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Photo Workshops fans!

Posted by on Dec 07 2010 | History, Other, Photography

Mark Roberts, a running buddy of mine who now lives in the Boston area, took one of our photo workshops last month: The Platinum Print: History & Technique with guest instructor Ron Cowie. Mark so thoroughly enjoyed his experience that he wrote about it and it was shared on two photography related sites: The Online Photographer and Enticing the Light.

From Mark’s blog: Ron Cowie rinsing a print after local development in ammonium citrate under glycerin

Here’s Mark looking at prints made during the workshop.

You will see that Mark is not only a good at writing, but also at making photographs. It was so nice to see him and to read about his great experience here in November.

Our next workshop is Basic Gelatin Emulsion Making with instructor Ron Mowry on January 17 – 19, 2011. Ron is a retired emulsion engineer from Eastman Kodak Company. The idea for this workshop came out of the monthly luncheon gathering of retirees from the photographic industry at the Café at George Eastman House. Our process historian Mark Osterman usually joins them. They reminisce about the good old days and Mark can pick their brains for nuggets of information to help him with his work. Anyway, Mark thought it would be great to have Ron teach this workshop about gelatin emulsion making before its products are no longer commercially available. Yes, silver gelatin photography is more and more being considered an alternative process. We are really looking forward to this next experience with a whole new amazing group of participants– Ron says he’s retired, but he is full of energy!

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The Best Platinum Workshop EVER!!!

Posted by on Oct 20 2010 | History, Other, Photography

It’s fall and the 2010 Photography Workshops season is winding down. We had a great class at this past weekend’s sold out workshop on How to Identify and Preserve Historic Photographs, focusing on 19th Century images. And since you’ve been asking….

Yes!  we still have some spaces available for the workshop, The Platinum Print: History & Technique, on November 13 and 14. Yes! the workshops are very hands-on! Participants will not only learn the history of this process, but  learn how to make platinum prints by our guest teacher Ron Cowie. Ron is just great – he’s so enthusiastic about the subject — there will not be a dull moment.

Ron Cowie (left) and Mark Osterman in demo mode.

Mark Osterman leading a class in the Eastman House gardens.

Of course, there are many places in the country where you could learn about the platinum process, but what has really gotten a great response from past classes is the visit to our Photographic Print Archive to  examine the marvelous unframed examples.

Alvin Langdon Coburn, The Flat Iron Building, Evening, 1912

Frederick H. Evans, F Holland Day in Algerian Costume, 1901

Peter Henry Emerson, Ricking the Reed, ca. 1885

There’s really nothing like seeing these prints from the masters themselves. Mark Osterman, with archivist Joe Struble, will be looking at classic platinum prints by Alvin Langdon Coburn, Frederick Evans, Peter Henry Emerson, Doris Ullman and Gertrude Käsebier— as well as more contemporary examples by Dick Arentz and Eikoh Hosoe.

We hope to see you there for an amazing experience!

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