The University of Rochester and George Eastman Museum have collaborated on a master’s degree in photographic preservation and collections management since 2014. The PPCM master’s program, administered through the University’s Art and Art History Department, combines academic coursework with practical training in managing photographic collections. The program is the only one in the United States dedicated to both the study of the photograph as an object (the care and handling of photographs) and the related academic study of images (the historical and theoretical context of visual culture).
This combination of practical and classroom experience provides students access to the museum’s extraordinary resources, including its collections, its library (one of the world’s leading repositories of photographic literature) a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory, and an internationally recognized faculty and staff.
George Eastman Museum 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 educational philosophy of George Eastman Museum is centered on the notion of hands-on learning, in which all of our activities are designed to provide superior advanced professional training to the students,” said Bruce Barnes, Ron and Donna Fielding Director of the George Eastman Museum. “Our students are ‘embedded’ in the museum and are treated as respected colleagues, and we encourage them to engage with staff, visitors, and visiting researchers.”
In addition to classroom instruction, students in the PPCM program customize their learning through supervised internship rotations in different departments of the museum. This unique program prepares graduates for professional careers within institutions that care for photography collections, including archivists, collections managers, registrars, curatorial assistants, research assistants, catalogers, rights & reproductions coordinators, and preservation specialists.
“Collections of photographs can be found almost everywhere: in art museums, galleries, auction houses, artists’ estates, universities, corporate and historical archives, libraries, and in private hands,” said Lisa Hostetler, curator-in-charge of the department of photography and program co-director. “As the value and significance of these collections increase, 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 master’s program adds to the long history of collaboration between the two institutions. Since 1966, George Eastman Museum curators and University faculty have been teaching film courses on both campuses. The University and George Eastman Museum 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.
For more information about the PPCM program and how to apply, visit sas.rochester.edu/ppc.