Archive for the 'Exploring the Archive' Category

Mystery nitrate negatives – we need your help!

Posted by on Jul 02 2013 | Behind The Scenes, Exploring the Archive, House & Gardens, Technology

via guest contributor and Eastman House volunteer, Kate Wallace

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While cleaning out the nitrate holding room at the museum, boxes of safety film and nitrate negatives were discovered that appear to have been donated to the museum in the late 1940’s when the museum was getting ready to open to the public.

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The boxes contain negatives that document various aspects of Kodak’s progress and activities from the late 1930s through the 1940s. Interesting handwritten notes describe many of the pictures that range from details such as a “small crack in the wall of a basement” to “condition of a safety boot.”

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There are portraits of employees who won awards for their initiatives to improve the company, along with parts of machines or tools from all different branches such as optics, film processing, and even some war time preparation and production.

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Not every negative matches up with a note, however, and many of the images are unidentifiable without knowledge of the film and processes used during this period. Any help in determining what some of these photographs are depicting, or what the machines pictured may have been used for would allow us to continue this documentation that began so many years ago.

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We are posting these five images in this post to start. If you can help send us a message, or leave a comment below. Thanks!

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Google is in the house

Posted by on Jun 17 2013 | Exploring the Archive, House & Gardens, Motion Pictures, Photography, Technology

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.

the technology vault

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?)

So feel free to take a drive and look around – make sure to check out the gardens too!

Having also partnered with Google’s Art Project (the cultural institute), we became the first photography museum to open its collections to the world. More information here, here and here.

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.

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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!

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Film Matters: Ain’t Nothin Like The Real Thing

Posted by on Aug 30 2012 | Exploring the Archive, History, Motion Pictures

The Dryden Theatre is a staple to film culture and motion picture history. The venue contains decades of memories among the walls, floors, and folding seats. The stories within the deep, curious cinema are many. The modest piano sits stage right, finely tuned and ready to go.  The hushed voices, watchful eyes, ears and smiles surround the box office just before a film begins.

So let’s talk 35mm – let’s talk depth of field, luminosity, purity and beauty. The Dryden screens 35mm almost exclusively (well, every once in a while we mix it up).  You won’t find DVD or Blue-ray here- only film–and oftentimes original. The George Eastman House collection is vast, as are our connections to fellow archives and studios, allowing the Dryden’s film series to be strategically crafted with thoughtful themes and chock-full with the best actors, directors and producers throughout history.

The next frontier for the Dryden is making members and the public aware of the magic of the theater. It is reminding patrons of the unique experience of watching a movie on the big screen shot on 35 or screening silent films with musical accompaniment. It is about the conversations before and after, and the community of this place. I’m proud to present to you a look at the Dryden Theatre and its importance locally and internationally. 
Meet Lori and Kolbe…

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Retina Camera Research

Posted by on Aug 13 2012 | Exploring the Archive, History, Photography

Some interesting research happening at Eastman House – David Jentz of the Retina Historical Society is here, along with co-researcher, Dr. Klaus-Peter Roesner of Germany looking at our Retina cameras, accessories, and literature in the collection. Mr. Jentz is a well known authority on the Retina camera and has lectured and published numerous articles.

Here are some examples of the cameras they’re spending time with.

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Treasures (jewelry!) in the Film Stills Collection

Posted by on Nov 16 2011 | Exploring the Archive, Motion Pictures, Other

The Motion Picture Department is home to nearly one million film stills covering over 100 years of movie making.  Historians, scholars, students, and others from a broad range of disciplines contact us every year for access to the stills collection, both in person and remotely, from all over the world.

It is fairly simple and straightforward to find and select stills when requested by a film title or by a person’s name.  That is how the stills in the collection are physically organized in the vault; it is also how stills are most frequently requested. But what about requests for stills that show certain subjects, such as World War I airplanes, stars with their pets, Technicolor cameras on set, or…

Jewelry?

This was the task at hand when we received a request for stills of stars wearing beautiful jewelry that could be used in conjunction with the upcoming Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection Jewelry Trunk Show and Sale.

In this case, the catalog record unfortunately does little in trying to get at stills that show lovely pieces of jewelry on lovely actresses.  The catalog record for a still typically captures the title of the film and the actors and actresses shown in the still, but doesn’t go to the deeper level of what objects happen to be in the still, or how well accessorized the actresses are. This is where creative thinking, some research, and of course knowledge of the stills collection come into play.

A little research into jewelry designers such as Joseff of Hollywood, whose company designed jewelry for films for over 30 years, was the first step that led us to several titles as likely sources of stills featuring outstanding jewelry:  Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, Humoresque, Kismet, Singin’ in the Rain, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Cleopatra were just a few.  Our search quickly led us to the Warner Bros. Keybook Stills Collection for an abundance of stills of Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca (1942) and Joan Crawford in Humoresque (1946), both very well appointed in 1940’s jewelry.

Images of even more stunning jewelry creations, worn by Grace Kelly and Jessie Royce Landis in To Catch a Thief (1955) and by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (1963), were found in the Core Publicity Stills Collection.

Film stills of this era were primarily shot and printed in black and white (even the stills shot for color films).  So for color images, we consulted a collection of gorgeous color transparencies from the 1950’s featuring such stars as Mitzi Gaynor in a publicity portrait for There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) and Dorothy Dandridge in a publicity portrait for Island in the Sun (1957).

It never fails to surprise me how many different ways there are to access the stills collection, and for so many different and unexpected purposes.  Requests like these keep an already fascinating job even more fascinating!

 

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