The University of Rochester and George Eastman House will jointly offer a new master's degree in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management (PPCM) beginning in the fall of 2014. 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). Enrollment begins this month, with the first students beginning their courses in fall 2014.
This unique program will 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," said Thomas DiPiero, dean for humanities and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Rochester. "This program brings together the museum and the University in strikingly innovative ways."
This combination of practical and classroom experience offers extraordinary 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, with students learning how to manage, maintain, and develop object-based and digital collections, including coursework in art handling, process identification, cataloging, registration methods, and photographic preservation.
"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," said Bruce Barnes, Ron and Donna Fielding Director, 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."
In addition to classroom instruction, students in the PPCM program are encouraged to customize their learning through their choice of supervised hands-on work opportunities throughout the museum and the University. These institutional service opportunities (ISO) have included cataloguing, installations, condition reporting, curatorial assistant, conservator's assistant, installation assistant, acquisition reporting, writing and editing, and photography. Each ISO is developed collaboratively by staff, faculty, and students to meet each student's needs.
"Collections of photographs can be found almost everywhere: in art museums, galleries, auction houses, artists' estates, universities, corporate and historical archives, libraries, and private hands," said Lisa Hostetler, curator-in-charge of the department of photography, George Eastman House. "As the value and significance of these collections increases, so does the need for specially trained professionals who can document, organize, interpret, and care for them—and the graduates of the PPCM program are uniquely qualified to do so."
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 George Eastman House currently offer a master of arts degree in motion picture preservation—the Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation—administered through the University of Rochester Department of English. In 2010, the University of Rochester and George Eastman House 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 this work will be presented at the upcoming meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February 2014, in Chicago.
For more information about the PPCM program and how to apply, please visit, www.rochester.edu/college/ppcm.
George Eastman House will continue to offer a certificate in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management for students who do not wish to enroll in the master's program. The certificate program is an intensive, eight-month, graduate-level immersion program for professionals, students, and independent scholars. For more information, visit education.eastmanhouse.org/PPCM.
About George Eastman House
George Eastman House holds unparalleled collections, totaling more than four million objects, of photographs, motion pictures, cameras and technology, and photographically illustrated books. Established as an independent non-profit institution in 1947, it is the world's oldest photography museum and third largest film archive in the United States. The museum is in Rochester, NY, and includes the National Historic Landmark house and gardens of George Eastman, the philanthropist and father of popular photography and motion picture film. Learn more at eastmanhouse.org.