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January 15, 2014

University, Eastman House to offer new master’s degree

Program focuses on photographic preservation and collections management

daguerreotypes & chemicals
Daguerreotypes of unknown subjects from the Eastman House’s collection

The University and George Eastman House will jointly offer a new master’s degree in photographic preservation and collections management beginning this fall. The program will be the only one in the United States dedicated to the study of the photograph as an object (the care and handling of photographs) as well as the related academic study of images (theoretical and historical context).

The program will aim to prepare graduates to work in a variety of roles within institutions that care for photography collections, including as archivists, collections managers, registrars, curatorial assistants, research assistants, catalogers, rights and reproductions coordinators, and preservation specialists.

“Students in this new program will have the unique opportunity to study photographs both as part of our material cultural heritage and as complex conveyors of aesthetic, social, and political meaning,” says Thomas DiPiero, dean for humanities and interdisciplinary studies. “This program brings together the museum and the University in strikingly innovative ways.”

The combination of practical and classroom experience offers access to collections material, one of the world’s leading libraries of photographica, a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory, and an internationally recognized faculty and staff. The hands-on aspect of the degree program will be key.

“The educational philosophy of George Eastman House is centered on the notion of the teaching museum, where all of our activities are designed to provide superior advanced professional training to the students among us,” says Bruce Barnes, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director of the George Eastman House. “Our students are ‘embedded’ in the museum and are treated as respected colleagues—as we encourage them to engage with staff, visitors, and visiting researchers and to direct their own learning to support their personal and professional objectives.”

The new master’s program adds to the long history of collaboration between the two institutions. Since 1966, George Eastman House curators and University faculty have been teaching film courses on both campuses. The University and the museum currently offer a master of arts degree in motion picture preservation—the Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation—administered through the University’s Department of English.

In 2010, the University and the museum signed a memorandum of understanding to establish broader and deeper research and teaching collaborations. On the research front, a team of researchers from both institutions has received National Science Foundation funding to study preservation techniques for daguerreotypes. Recent advances in the work will be presented next month at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

For more information about the new master’s program and how to apply, visit,

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