The Technology Collection

The technology collection is one of the world's largest collections of photographic and cinematographic equipment. It contains nineteenth- and twentieth-century objects of photographic technology, including cameras, processing equipment, motion picture devices, and a broad range of early historical accessories. Many of the objects are unique, representing distinguished historical ownership and significant scientific achievement.

This collection is the most comprehensive held by any institution in North America and equaled in overall quality by only three other major holdings worldwide. From devices that pre-date the formal invention of photography in 1839 to the most modern state-of-the-art instruments used by both amateurs and professionals, the collection offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to examine and learn about photographic technology.

The core collections are both European and American in origin; the greatest strengths are early French and American cameras.

Highlights

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  • An Edison Kinetoscope and a Cinématographe camera, made by the Lumière brothers in France, are the earliest commercially produced motion picture systems.
  • An eighteenth-century camera obscura is the oldest item in the collection.
  • One of two Giroux daguerreotype cameras in North America. Produced in 1839 for and signed by Daguerre, it is the world's first commercially manufactured camera.
  • The Bemis daguerreotype camera outfit, built in 1840, is a key artifact in the early history of the process. The fitted wooden trunk containing all the equipment needed to make a full-plate daguerreotype was sold by François Gouraud, Daugerre's first sales agent in the United States, to a Boston dentist and jeweller, Samuel A. Bemis, on April 15, 1840, just six months after the process was announced. Bemis learned the process from François Gouraud. This outfit, complete with the original bill of sale, provides a unique link between France and America. It is one of the first camera outfits sold commercially in the United States.
  • A lunar orbiter camera developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Speed Graphic camera used by Joe Rosenthal for the 1945 photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima
  • Cameras and equipment used by such people Ansel Adams, Eadweard Muybridge, Arnold Newman, Alfred Stieglitz, and Edward Weston
  • The largest collection of French daguerreotype cameras; the most varied collection of daguerreotype cameras
  • One of the largest collections of American cameras in the world

Materials

The technology collection is made up of more than 16,000 separate items including:

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  • 4,100 cameras (still and motion picture)
  • 700 projectors (still and motion picture)
  • 400 viewers (hand-held mono and stereo)
  • 900 lenses
  • 1700 equipment (accessories)
  • 700 dark room (enlargers, timers, trays)
  • 1500 supplies (film and paper packaging)
  • 1700 exposure measuring instruments
  • More than 4,000 items in the Eastman Kodak Company Patent collection

Access

Access to the collection is by appointment Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Contact

Technology Curator, Todd Gustavson Ext. 369



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