Rochester, NY—The George Eastman Museum will begin construction on a new visitor center on January 6, 2020. Moreover, it will include construction of the ESL Federal Credit Union Pavilion.
Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the U.S. It is located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography.
Moreover, its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs; 28,000 motion picture films; the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology; one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema; and extensive holdings of documents as well as other objects related to George Eastman.
Furthermore, a research and teaching institution, the museum has an active publishing program. And through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, it also makes critical contributions to the fields of film preservation, photographic preservation and collection management.
Visitor Center Construction Details
The visitor center project involves relocating the museum’s main entrance to the west side of the building. Furthermore, it is the most significant structural change to the museum since the gallery and collections building was constructed in 1989. The project is scheduled for completion in July 2020.
The new glass-and-steel ESL Federal Credit Union Pavilion will locate in front of the west facade of the one-story building—originally George Eastman’s garage—where the museum’s café and shop are currently located. The structure will allow the historic facade of the garage to be visible from both within and outside the pavilion.
Moreover, after going through the new entrance, visitors will see a new admissions desk; gathering places; a renovated meeting hall and screening room; a more mission-focused shop; as well as a relocated café. The café also offers seating in the historic Palm House with views of the Schuyler C. Townson terrace garden.
“The new entrance will be more convenient, visible, welcoming and accessible for our visitors,” said Bruce Barnes, the Ron and Donna Fielding director of the George Eastman Museum. “The new visitor center will transform our guests’ experience. We appreciate the understanding as well as patience of our members and visitors as we work to serve them better.”
Closures during Construction
What’s more, the construction will affect several public spaces of the museum, including closures throughout the duration of the project. In addition to the visitor center project, the museum is completing restoration of the historic Colonnade. The resumption of work on this project will require the mansion’s closure from December 18, 2019 through February 13, 2020.
However, during this period, admission to the museum will be reduced to $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (65+), $3 for ages 5–17 and students (with ID). Of course, admission will remain free for museum members; children 4 and under; SNAP/EBT cardholders and their families; and active-duty military personnel and their families.
The mansion will reopen on February 14, 2020, with the start of the annual Dutch Connection floral show. Regular museum admission rates will then recommence.
Furthermore, the galleries and mansion will remain open during most of the visitor center construction. However, the entire George Eastman Museum will close from January 6 through January 30, 2020. The museum will reopen on the evening of January 30 for the exhibition preview event, Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory.
In addition, the Dryden Theatre will close from January 1 through June 3, 2020. It will reopen for the 6th Nitrate Picture Show on June 4, 2020.
In recognition of the closures resulting from the construction and restoration projects, all new and renewed membership terms will span 13 months rather than one year. The expiration dates of all Dryden Theatre film passes will also extend through June 30, 2021.
George Eastman Museum Visitor Center Funding
The visitor center project was initiated by a longtime museum patron, who is donating more than $1.5 million for the project. The New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA), in conjunction with the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, also granted $1 million for the project.
In addition, the ESL Federal Credit Union acquired the naming rights to the entrance pavilion for $1 million.
Flynn Battaglia Architects of Buffalo designed the visitor center and will oversee the construction project. Pike Construction was selected as the general contractor.