The George Eastman Museum will break ground on new visitor center on January 6, 2020

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Palm House Cafe

Temporary closures scheduled during construction

Rochester, N.Y., November 18, 2019—The George Eastman Museum has announced it will break ground on January 6, 2020, for a new visitor center, which includes construction of the ESL Federal Credit Union Pavilion. The visitor center project, which involves relocating the museum’s main entrance to the west side of the building, is the most significant structural change to the museum since the gallery and collections building was constructed in 1989. The project is expected to be complete by July 2020.

The new ESL Federal Credit Union Pavilion will be a glass-and-steel structure in front of the west facade of the one-story building—originally George Eastman’s garage—where the museum’s café and shop are currently located. The structure is designed to allow the historic facade of the garage to be visible from both within and outside the pavilion. Through the new entrance, visitors will be served by a new admissions desk, gathering places, a renovated meeting hall and screening room, a more mission-focused shop, and a relocated café that includes seating in the historic Palm House with views of the Schuyler C. Townson Terrace Garden.

“The new entrance will be more convenient, visible, welcoming, and accessible for our visitors,” said Bruce Barnes, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director of the George Eastman Museum. “The new visitor center will transform our guests’ experience. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our members and visitors as we work to serve them better.”

Several public spaces of the museum will be affected by construction, including closures throughout the duration of the project. In addition to the visitor center project, the museum is completing restoration of the historic Colonnade. The resumption of work on this project will require that the historic mansion will be closed from December 18, 2019, through February 13, 2020. During this period, admission to the museum will be reduced to $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (65+), $3 for ages 5–17 and students (with ID). (Admission will remain free for museum members, children 4 and under, SNAP/EBT cardholders and their families, and active-duty military personnel and their families.) The mansion will reopen on February 14, 2020, with the start of the annual Dutch Connection floral show, and regular museum admission rates will recommence.

The galleries and mansion will be open for most of the duration of the visitor center construction, but the entire George Eastman Museum will be closed to the public from January 6 through January 30, 2020. The museum will reopen on the evening of January 30 for the exhibition preview event for Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory. The Dryden Theatre will be closed from January 1 through June 3, 2020, and will reopen for the 6th Nitrate Picture Show on June 4, 2020.

In recognition of the closures resulting from the construction and restoration projects, all new and renewed membership terms will be for 13 months rather than one year, and the expiration dates of all Dryden Theatre film passes will be extended through June 30, 2021.

The following are key dates for visitors to be aware of when planning a visit to the museum:

  • George Eastman Museum (mansion and galleries): CLOSED January 6–January 30, 2020
  • Historic mansion:  CLOSED December 19, 2019–February 13, 2020
  • Dryden Theatre: CLOSED January 1–June 3, 2020
  • Café: CLOSED January 2–June 3, 2020
  • Museum shop: CLOSED January 2 for the duration of the construction project.

The visitor center project was initiated by a longtime museum patron, who is donating more than $1.5 million for the project. The New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA), in conjunction with the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, has granted $1 million for the project. ESL Federal Credit Union acquired the naming rights to the entrance pavilion for $1 million, which enabled the overall project to proceed.

Flynn Battaglia Architects, of Buffalo, has designed the visitor center and will oversee the construction project, and Pike Construction has been selected as the general contractor. For more information and updates on the project as they become available, visit eastman.org/visit.

About the George Eastman Museum

Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active publishing program and, through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, makes critical contributions to the fields of film preservation and of photographic preservation and collection management. For more information, visit eastman.org.

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