Entrepreneur George Eastman (1854–1932), the pioneer of popular photography, completed his Colonial Revival mansion on East Avenue in Rochester in 1905 and resided there until his death. He bequeathed most of his assets to the University of Rochester, expressing a desire that his mansion serve as the residence for the university president. The large house, measuring 35,000 square feet, proved far too large for this purpose, especially without a large service staff.
In 1947, the Board of Regents of the State of New York chartered George Eastman House Inc. as an independent nonprofit educational institution—specifically, a museum of photography and allied pursuits created as a memorial to George Eastman. The next year, the University of Rochester donated Eastman’s mansion and surrounding property to the museum. The institution altered its name several times over the ensuing decades, but its mission has remained steadfast: to collect, preserve, study, and exhibit photographic and cinematic objects and related technology from the inception of each medium to the present.
At the museum’s opening in 1949, it was one of only two American museums with a photography department and one of only two American museums with a film department (the Museum of Modern Art also had both). In 1951, the museum opened the beautiful Dryden Theatre, with seating for more than five hundred people, to exhibit films.
The George Eastman museum is still running strong, but it needs help, just like any non-profit. If you’re a photography lover – if you’re reading this chances are good that you are – consider a donation to the museum today.
For More Information and to Donate: George Eastman Museum