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Old photographs find new life as George Eastman Museum digitizes 250,000 images

One of the oldest photography collections in the world is now accessible anywhere in the world — the George Eastman Museum recently opened an online database containing more than 250,000 images from the New York museum’s collections.

With the addition, images from the photography, technology, and George Eastman collections are now accessible online, with the Moving Image collection expected to also be added within the next few months. The online collection is also searchable by photographer, collection, classification and date, the museum says.

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The online collection is just a small portion of what the photography museum has to offer, and new images are added to the database on a weekly basis. The three collections encompass old photographs, images of the technology used to capture those photographs, and details of the Kodak founder and inventor of the consumer camera, George Eastman.

“The George Eastman Museum has a long tradition of making our unparalleled collections — encompassing several million objects in the fields of photography, cinema, and photographic and cinematographic technology, as well as objects related to George Eastman — physically accessible to scholars, curators, and the public through our study centers and library, traveling exhibitions, and object loans,” said Bruce Barnes, the museum’s Ron and Donna Fielding Director. “Online access to our extensive collections will transform the public’s understanding of our holdings and facilitate new forms of collaboration with creators, curators, scholars, and collectors. Whether you are conducting research on a particular subject or simply interested in seeing what works we have by your favorite photographer, you can now do so much more easily.”

The project was partially initiated by a $148,000 grant to digitize the museum’s Gabriel Cromer collection, which the museum says is considered the most important early French photography collection that exists outside of France.

The museum’s digitized collections are now being offered directly from the museum’s website.