The Motion Picture Collection
The Motion Picture Collection at George Eastman House, one of the major moving image archives in the United States, was begun in 1949 by the first curator of film, James Card (1915-2000). His vision, daring and persistence helped to establish George Eastman House as a leading force in the field with holdings of over 30,000 titles and a collection of stills, posters and papers with over 4 million artifacts. Mr. Card’s devotion to the silent era of filmmaking (1895-1928), the golden age of Hollywood (the 1920’s – 1940’s) and silent German cinema created a core collection of classics unrivalled for its quality and diversity. Mr. Card is credited with the discovery and preservation of the last surviving print of the silent film Peter Pan (Herbert Brenon, 1924); with re-examining the career and work of silent screen star Louise Brooks by preserving Pandora’s Box (G.W. Pabst, 1928), Diary of a Lost Girl (G.W. Pabst, 1929) and Prix de Beauté (Augusto Genina, 1930); with championing film history by honoring its pioneers through the George Eastman Award; by instituting a film restoration program that continues today. His desire to share his love of films with the public resulted in the establishment of one of the longest running and uninterrupted film screening programs in the United States at our Dryden Theatre. In 1949, through his close friendship with his contemporaries Henri Langlois, Director of the Cinémathèque française, Iris Barry at The Museum of Modern Art, and Ernst Lindgren at the British Film Institute, Mr. Card brought George Eastman House into the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), the pre-eminent organization devoted to ensuring that the collective world heritage of motion pictures is cared for and preserved for future generations.
The Motion Picture Collection at George Eastman House continues to offer public access to our holdings. Expanding through acquisitions, the archive now preserves the personal film collections of directors Kathryn Bigelow, Ken Burns, Cecil B. DeMille, Norman Jewison, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese, as well as the largest single body of nitrate Technicolor YCM negatives in the United States. Our Dryden Theatre presents screenings all year round, and over the years has hosted hundreds of visiting artists and honored George Eastman Scholar Award winners. Our ongoing preservation program focuses on the forgotten works of early cinema by recognizing the importance of “orphan films.” In partnership with The Film Foundation, The Louis B. Mayer Foundation, The National Film Preservation Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Packard Humanities Institute, The Wenner - Gren Foundation and many individual donors, George Eastman House is able to preserve and restore films that would otherwise be lost through chemical decomposition.
In 1996, The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation was founded in order to provide the next generation of archivists with the training and techniques necessary to continue the work of film restoration in the new millennium. The school offers a one-year Certificate Program, and the two-year Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation in partnership with the University of Rochester. The Selznick School is the first of its kind to provide a comprehensive and intensive training program within the archive environment, thus giving students hands-on experience in all aspects of film handling, conservation, curatorial matters, programming, and both photochemical and digital restoration.
Motion Picture Study Center & Booking Information
The Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House welcomes general questions on its film holdings as well as researchers who wish to view films and access the reference library in our Study Center. Study Center hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.
Students, scholars and individuals who wish to view films for research should send a list of titles to firstname.lastname@example.org. If viewing prints are available, research time may be booked in the Study Center by contacting email@example.com.
To Book Research Time in the Study Center:
- Appointments must be made at least 3 to 6 weeks in advance, depending on the number of films to be viewed.
- The fee is $15.00 per hour to use a flatbed viewer.
- $30.00 per hour for the Screening Room (16mm and video only)
- $125.00 per hour for the Dryden or Curtis Theaters (35mm and 16mm)
- $350.00 per hour evenings (Dryden and Curtis Theatres, if available). Minimum 3 hour call.
- Payment is due at the end of the session. You will be issued a receipt at the time of payment.
- We accept cash, check and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express only.)
- If special payment arrangements are necessary, please specify this at the time of booking.
- There is no charge to use the Study Center Library.
- Photocopies are $ 0.25 each.
Taxes are applicable on all orders, except for non-profit institutions that provide a valid Federal Tax ID number.