Over the past three years, supporters of the George Eastman Museum have generously committed more than $4.5 million to our Transforming Our Visitors’ Experience campaign. Its first phase has culminated in the opening of the Thomas Tischer Visitor Center and presentation of our new Colorama.
The visitor center is the most important advance in our guests’ experience since George Eastman’s historic mansion was restored thirty years ago. The ESL Federal Credit Union Pavilion provides a convenient and easily accessible entrance at the center of the museum complex. The Wolk Concourse is a broad thoroughfare that leads to the multipurpose hall, the new café and store, George Eastman’s historic mansion and the Schuyler C. Townson Terrace Garden, and the museum’s exhibition galleries.
In her remarks at the grand opening, Mara Manus, the executive director of the New York State Council on the Arts, expressed that this is a “transformative project, not just for the city but for the region,” that “will usher in a new era” for the Eastman Museum, “one of New York State’s cultural anchors.” After attending the opening, Harold Samloff, a trustee of the Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Foundation, reported to his fellow trustees that the “sensational transformation of the visiting experience” is a project that will enhance our community.
All of the supporters of this major project share a common objective: enabling one of Rochester’s leading cultural institutions to better serve the community, as well as our visitors from around the world. In their commitment to improving the quality of life for Rochesterians through cultural and educational institutions, our benefactors follow the example of George Eastman.
“Arts and culture play a critical, crucial role in the vitality of our community,” Faheem Masood, president and chief executive officer of ESL Federal Credit Union, said at our ribbon-cutting ceremony. “They breathe life into our neighborhoods and into our lives.” The Eastman Museum and all of the donors to this project manifestly agree.
Because of his reverence for George Eastman and passion for photography, Thomas Tischer, the lead donor to the project, has focused his philanthropy primarily on our institution. The other major supporters of this project have each made significant contributions to other leading cultural institutions in Rochester. We are grateful to the individuals and private foundations, corporate sponsors, the State of New York, and Monroe County who have generously supported the Eastman Museum’s ambitious capital project.
We are committed to strengthening our institution’s mission of serving the Rochester community. Our new multipurpose hall and a forthcoming community gallery will each enhance the Eastman Museum’s ability to serve a broader and more diverse audience. Next year, our main exhibition galleries will present a retrospective of the photographs of Carl Chiarenza, a longtime Rochester resident, and an early career survey of the works of Joshua Rashaad McFadden, a Rochester native.
Despite the thrill of the new, our museum is experiencing financial challenges in our day-to-day operations because the ongoing health crisis has reduced attendance. Having carefully implemented appropriate measures to protect the health of our guests and staff, we hope that you will don your masks and visit the museum soon. We are currently presenting three excellent and varied photography exhibitions, which will all close on January 3, 2021. Beginning on November 6, we will continue our annual holiday traditions — including the Sweet Creations gingerbread display (arranged to make it safer and easier to enjoy while social distancing).
We expect that you will find your experience of visiting the George Eastman Museum transformed. We even paved the parking lot.
Bruce Barnes, PhD
Ron and Donna Fielding Director