The George Eastman Museum is one of the major collecting institutions in the world actively preserving moving images in all media and formats. It is also the first institution in the United States to have established a certificate and master’s degree program for archival training, the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, founded in 1996. With the support of funding agencies like the Packard Humanities Institute, the Louis B. Mayer Foundation, the National Film Preservation Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Film Foundation, and many individual donors, the Eastman Museum is able to preserve and restore cinematic works that would otherwise be lost forever because of chemical decomposition.
The Moving Image Department’s ongoing preservation program focuses on the treasures of early cinema and on “orphan films” in general. Past key film restoration projects include Fear and Desire (Stanley Kubrick, 1953); the silent films of Cecil B. DeMille and Georges Méliès; and, more recently, the newly discovered Too Much Johnson (Mercury Theatre/Orson Welles dir., 1938). In addition, the museum holds the original camera negatives of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz (both directed by Victor Fleming, 1939), as well as thousands of other films cared for by the museum, ensuring their survival for generations to come.
The Eastman Museum maintains its collection of nitrate film at the Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center, a state-of-the-art facility consisting of twelve vaults containing more than 26 million feet of film and an inspection room with four workstations for the care and inspection of film material.