Eastman Collection Designated as an ASME Landmark

Jul 9, 2015

ASME Past President Madiha El Mehelmy Kotb (right) joined Joseph Lawson, chair of the ASME Rochester Section, to unveil the ASME landmark plaque at a press event prior to the landmark designation ceremony in Rochester, N.Y. (Photo by Michael Hanlon, Hanlon-Fiske)

On June 15, the Technology Collection at George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. — the world's oldest photography museum — was designated as ASME's 258th Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The collection consists of more than 16,000 artifacts that mark the progression of photographic technology from rudimentary equipment to the sleek, digital devices of today.

The landmark designation ceremony, which was hosted by ASME's Rochester Section, was attended by an ASME delegation that included Past President Madiha El Mehelmy Kotb, who presented the commemorative plaque, Jack Brown, who represented the ASME History and Heritage Committee, and three leaders from the Rochester Section: Joseph Lawson, section chair; Jon Kreigel, History & Heritage chair; and Ronald Saltzman, the section's treasurer. Approximately 110 people — including museum employees and ASME volunteers and staff — attended the event, which was held at the museum's Dryden Theater.

ASME Past President Madiha El Mehelmy Kotb (left) presents the ASME landmark plaque to Dr. Bruce Barnes, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director of the Eastman George Eastman House, at the landmark ceremony on June 15. (Photo by Michael Hanlon, Hanlon-Fiske)

According to the citation on the bronze landmark plaque presented to the museum, the Technology Collection "comprises still and motion picture cameras, projectors, processing equipment and accessories illustrating the development of photographic technology from its inception in the early 1800s to the present. Among his extensive collection are cameras used by well-known professional photographers, along with innovations by George Eastman and others that made photography increasingly available to the public at large."

Key pieces in the museum's massive collection include the full-plate daguerreotype camera, the first camera manufactured in quantity; the handheld Kodak Camera, the first successful camera to use roll film; the Edison Kinetoscope, the first motion picture device to use flexible film; the simple-to-use and inexpensive Brownie camera, which brought photography to the general public; and the Lunar Orbiter Payload camera, which enabled the photographic surveying of landing sites on the moon in advance of NASA's Apollo space flights.

The Technology Collection at George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., consists of more than 16,000 still and motion picture cameras, projectors, processing equipment, accessories and other photographic artifacts. (Photo by Wil Haywood, ASME Public Information)

“The technology collection of the Eastman House is very significant for history,” Kotb said during the plaque presentation. “It captured memorable moments in history, whether it's wartime, peacetime, the exploration of the moon, and family time, fun time. It captured memorable moments of everyone's life.

“We need to continue to support institutions such as this, because this collection serves as a knowledge base, not only for those looking to learn the art of photography and film, but for engineers as well,” she continued. “To understand the evolution of this photographic and cinematographic equipment is to see through the eyes of an engineer: inventing, designing, constantly improving, seeking a better understanding of the creative process.”

For more information on the ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark program, visit https://www.asme.org/about-asme/engineering-history/landmarks/about-the-landmarks-program.

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