About

Student at Lightbox

The Photographic Preservation and Collections Management (PPCM) master’s degree is a collaborative program offered by the University of Rochester and George Eastman House.

This university-museum partnership offers you both:

  • Comprehensive, hands-on training to work with photographs and photographic collections in all their forms
  • Advanced coursework in the humanities emphasizing visual theory, historical and cultural analysis, and material culture

The PPCM program teaches you the care, preservation, and interpretation of photographs within a broader humanities context. As a PPCM graduate, you will be equipped to:

  • Serve photographic collections with the technical skills of handling and care
  • Use your specialized knowledge of collections management
  • Understand the broad aesthetic, historical, social, and theoretical knowledge essential to the proper understanding and use of photographs

You will also be trained in relevant digital technologies for preservation and archiving. The field of digital preservation has grown rapidly. The field is continually establishing new methods for approaching both born-digital material and developing innovative digital systems of organization and management for 19th- and 20th-century collections.

Photographs as Objects

Photo Course

The technological innovations that allowed people to preserve images created by light have had profound scientific, aesthetic, historical, and social effects. Photographs are keepers of both memory and historical information; they are a compelling combination of aesthetic objects and objects of evidence.

Photographs are first and foremost objects, but their form and function have evolved since the discovery of photography in the early 19th century. Since the 1960s the economic value of some photographs has increased enormously. Museums, archives, and libraries increasingly find themselves the stewards of vast numbers of photographs assembled by individuals, educational institutions, and corporations. In many cases these collections lie moribund, inaccessible and invisible for want of trained professionals to assess, interpret, organize, and care for them.

Photographs as Resources

Collections of photographs represent some of our country’s most important resources. Owned by most libraries and museums, as well as by families, they are appreciated for their information and their aesthetic, and for their ability to connect us to remote places, times, people, and ideas.

Photographs are often considered within the category of visual art. But other disciplines also use and address photographs as resources, including:

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Geography
  • Women’s studies
  • Architecture
  • Literature
  • Foreign language
  • Material culture studies

The complex nature of their materiality and their very quantity and ubiquity create special challenges for their care, organization, and understanding that all too often limit their accessibility, to both scholars and the general public.