Over the course of my six years serving as the Ron and Donna Fielding Director of the George Eastman Museum, I have witnessed the invaluable work of our great staff, committed trustees, and dedicated volunteers. Each play a key role in sustaining and advancing our missions, but it is only with the financial support of numerous institutions and the generosity of many individuals that the Eastman Museum thrives.
During 2018, we have made important progress in our essential mission of preserving our world-class collections and George Eastman’s mansion, a National Historic Landmark. We are fortunate and grateful that our investment in preservation projects has been supported by government and foundation grants and special contributions from individual donors.
The critical restoration of the East Porch has been completed, with principal funding from the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The historic lily pool in the Schuyler C. Townson Terrace Garden has been restored, thanks to the hard work of our staff and generous support from the Rochester Garden Club, the Allyn’s Creek Garden Club, and numerous individuals.
In the coming months, we will replace the thirty-year-old systems that control the temperature and humidity in our photography vault, photography study center, and technology vault. This major project will greatly enhance the preservation of our photography and technology collections. Funding for this project has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the William and Sheila Konar Foundation, ESL Charitable Foundation, the Elaine P. and Richard U. Wilson Foundation, Stephen and Janice Ashley, and several other individual donors.
A second part of our mission is to act as a leader in the fields of photography and cinema. This year, the Eastman Museum published The Photographer in the Garden (in collaboration with Aperture Foundation) and David Levinthal: War, Myth, Desire. Researchers, scholars, and students from around the world seek out our collections and expertise, accessing our collection objects, library holdings, and archival materials onsite and online. Museums and archival cinemas around the nation and the globe borrow objects from our collection to enhance their exhibitions and film programs. Graduates of our L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and our Photographic Preservation and Collections Management program become the next generation of archivists, collection managers, and curators. Artists, makers, and enthusiasts receive unparalleled hands-on instruction in our historic and alternative photographic process workshops.
The final part of our mission is to serve our communities in Greater Rochester and elsewhere. This year, we estimate more than 120,000 people will have visited the Eastman Museum for thirteen special exhibitions; more than 250 film screenings; docent- and self-led tours of our historic mansion and gardens; talks by artists, curators, scholars, and conservators; and concerts in the mansion and on the east and north lawns. Film lovers from near and far reveled in this year’s selections for our Nitrate Picture Show film festival. Adults and children alike delighted in our Dutch Connection flower show and Eastman Entertains display of tablescapes, and thousands more will enjoy the Sweet Creations festival of gingerbread houses this season.
Admission revenues, membership donations, and earned income cover only a fraction of the costs of our staff, facilities, and programs. We depend on our Annual Fund to close the gap. Although the impact of Annual Fund dollars is sometimes not as readily evident, they are just as significant as funds for capital and special projects. In fact, they make possible everything we do. Thus, the importance of generous contributions to our Annual Fund from friends like you.
I deeply appreciate your interest in and support of the George Eastman Museum and hope that you will donate what you can to our Annual Fund, which enables us to continue to be a leader in the fields of photography and cinema, and to serve our communities — in Rochester and elsewhere — with enlightening, engaging, and entertaining programs.
Bruce Barnes, PhD
Ron and Donna Fielding Director
Originally published in the Eastman Museum November/December 2018 Bulletin