Welcome Bruce Barnes!

Posted by on Sep 28 2012 | Other

As I sit here today looking out on the terrace garden at Eastman House, I am completely full with anticipation and excitement for the next chapter. Just yesterday we announced our new director, Dr. Bruce Barnes.

An overarching message of change was the focus of the press conference and Bruce Barnes’ conversation with his new team. We are all looking forward to fresh ideas and energy for the museum, and to continuing the global education of preservation, history, and the future of photography and motion pictures.

Dr. Bruce Barnes, the new Ron and Donna Fielding Director

September 27, 2012






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Colorama returns home to Grand Central

Posted by on Jul 26 2012 | Photography


JUNIOR MISS PAGEANT by Lee Howick (pictured center is ABC’s Diane Sawyer) March 9-30, 1964

I had the thrill of attending a press preview in New York City earlier this week for the exhibition Colorama. I happily stood amongst a vivid selection of 36 Coloramas from the Eastman House collection, on view to the public beginning Saturday at the Transit Museum at Grand Central.

One could say this is a homecoming for the Coloramas, the gigantic panoramic images that dominated Grand Central Terminal for 40 years, from 1950 to 1990.

Over time, a total of 565 Coloramas were displayed, changing out every three weeks. These towering backlit transparencies often received ovation from New Yorkers and travelers whenever a new photo was unveiled. The ad campaign ended when the terminal was restored in 1990.

The images in the new exhibition are a few feet in width yet still subtly suggest you buy film so you, too, can take a beautiful color photo. This subtly in advertising dates back to company founder George Eastman, who sold the experience and emotion rather than just the camera and roll of film.

Colorama by Neil Montanus December 27, 1962 to January 12, 1963 #235

I’ve talked with and befriended at least a dozen of the Colorama photographers and have heard several dramatic backstories. I shared many of these stories at the press preview, and doubt I will ever tire of talking about the wonder of Colorama.

For the millions passing through busy Grand Central for almost half of the terminal’s existence, these scenes were a moment of escapism, as New Yorkers and tourists longed for these Kodak moments to unfold in their own worlds. I had that experience, once again, yesterday. And I’m still smiling.

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Happy Birthday, George Eastman!

Posted by on Jul 12 2012 | History

300 million photographs are uploaded every day to Facebook (yep, I also had to re-read the number when I saw it). And today we celebrate George Eastman’s birthday (July 12) as if it was a national holiday, remembering the young man who made photography easy and accessible more than 100+ years ago.

At just 25 years old, George Eastman began his career introducing photography and motion picture film to the masses, founding Kodak (in 1880) and ultimately becoming one of the biggest philanthropists of the 20th century.

Eastman’s legacy is still strong today, more than ever. We’re reminded of the same spirit from the drive of Steve Jobs, the intelligence and philanthropy of Bill Gates, and the innovation of Mark Zuckerberg.

As we mark the anniversary of Eastman’s birth, I recall a post written by new Eastman House Trustee Tom Hoehn, where he declared Eastman an “Internet-age pioneer.” He wrote, “I think George Eastman was prescient, a fancy term for showing knowledge of events before they take place.” This includes:

Attention to user experience and ambiguity: Eastman helped create Kodak’s first advertising slogan to explain to consumers the process would be easy: “You press button, we do the rest.” Yes, just one click and magic happened, as with the best web design. Ubiquity just like photo-enabled cameras, phones, and tablets everywhere.

Privacy: Ah, not a topic surfaced by the proliferation of Google and Facebook. When Eastman’s cameras were first introduced, people were trying to come to grips with the fact that they could be the subject of a photograph without their permission. In 1899, The New York Times reported “kodak fiends” were harassing the ladies of Newport, and Teddy Roosevelt was “known to exhibit impatience at attempts to kodak him” and even banned cameras for a time from parks in Washington as a violation of privacy.

Tagging: Kodak introduced Autographic cameras that had a flip door and a stylus, so one could notate photos as they were taken. An ad for the camera said, “It makes the record authentic; answers questions: When did make this? Where was this taken?

Thank you, George Eastman. I will celebrate your legacy tonight as I post online many photos of my children, taken as we play in your gardens during an outdoor concert. Happy Birthday and cheers!

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