Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce More Than $400K In Federal Funds For Three Museums & Art Galleries In The City Of Rochester

Sep 15, 2016

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $417,281 in federal funds for three City of Rochester museums and art galleries. The funding was allocated through The Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) Museums for America discretionary grant program. Schumer and Gillibrand said these three significant and historical institutions will benefit greatly from these federal funds, and these federal investments will allow the public to enjoy the intellectual and cultural experiences these museums and art galleries bring to the City of Rochester. 

“With this generous, timely and vital federal grant, these three Rochester staples and institutions will be able to share its art collections and historical exhibits with the local community as well as visitors from all over the state, country and world,” said Senator Schumer. “These museums and galleries will enable guests to marvel at the exquisite artifacts and creations from hundreds of years ago as well as the present day, in an interactive and innovative way. I am delighted to announce this funding and I cannot wait to see the finished products.”

“This investment in three historic museums and art galleries will help expand exciting new learning and cultural opportunities in Rochester,” said Senator Gillibrand. “With this funding, these institutions will be able to implement high quality programming that adds so much richness and vitality to life in Rochester.” 

Specifically, the George Eastman Museum – which is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography and one of the world’s oldest film archives – will receive $148,079 in federal funds to catalog, digitize, and provide online access to the Gabriel Cromer Collection of early photography, which includes photographs, prints, albums, books, cameras, lenses, and early motion studies. The museum will fully catalog 400 objects and create approximately 8,000 digital images. The collection is a renown in both the area of early photography as well as early French photographic materials. Schumer and Gillibrand said this is a historical collection because the Cromer family, in the lead-up to the German invasion of France in World War II, wanted to ensure the photographs and collection would be saved and not destroyed in the war. This led them to arrange to send the photos and collection to the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester. The Eastman Kodak Company acquired Cromer’s collection from his widow in 1939 and transported it out of France months before Germany invaded. It was transferred to the George Eastman Museum in 1948, shortly after the museum was founded. Because the collection was one of the earliest donations to the museum’s collection, it was not initially well-catalogued. That is now being corrected. The George Eastman Museum is planning to have a major exhibition of this collection by 2018. In the meantime, this IMLS grant will help them preserve the photos and digitize them so that they will be accessible. Finally, the completion of this project will allow serve the public by providing free online access for both scholarly research and recreational inquiry. 

George Eastman Museum Director Dr. Bruce Barnes said, “The Gabriel Cromer Collection at the George Eastman Museum is considered one of the seminal collections of early French photography and the most important collection of such materials outside of France.  We are thrilled to receive this grant award, which will advance two of the Eastman Museum’s key strategic objectives: to preserve our collection objects and to enhance access to and understanding of our collections.” 

In addition, the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester will receive $119,208 in federal funding to conduct a detailed conservation survey of 600 textiles in the Gallery’s permanent collection, including European, American and Asian costumes, Coptic textiles, American quilts and samplers, Central and Native American blankets and clothing, and work by contemporary textile artists like Olga de Amaral. In addition, the gallery will be able to re-house all objects in environmentally-sound storage materials as well as enlarge its textile storage room. Upgrading the storage room and re-housing certain textiles will allow the gallery’s staff to access works of art safely with minimal handling, and provide additional space for future collections growth. 

Memorial Art Gallery Director Jonathan Binstock said, “MAG is thrilled and honored to be the recipient of this significant award from IMLS, which actively supports critical, behind-the-scenes stewardship of the collections that museums hold in trust for their communities. These funds will enable us to commission a detailed condition survey of MAG’s entire textile collection, which comprises a wealth of works from all time periods and regions of the world. The project also greatly expands the museum’s capacity to care for these important collections through a complete rehousing and storage facility renovation.  We appreciate Senator Schumer’s and Senator Gillibrand’s support of IMLS and his role as a strong advocate of public funding for the arts.” 

Lastly, The Strong National Museum of Play will receive $149,994 to fabricate and install its new exhibition, “Preend Playscape: Building Strong Minds,” which allows visitors to engage in pretend play, participate in critical dialog about pretend play and its place in lives, and learn about the important role of pretend play in human emotional, intellectual, social, and cultural development. The museum will use this new installment to evaluate how well the exhibition increases adult interest in promoting pretend play in children’s lives by conducting pre- and post-visit interview surveys to gauge what guests know about the benefits of pretend play before and after their visit. 

The Strong’s President and CEO Rollie Adams said, “Over the years, the IMLS has been a tremendous resource and catalyst for exhibit development at The Strong, helping us to produce unique and engaging experiences for  more than 500,000 guests annually, and this award is equally important. It will enable the museum to leverage other resources to produce a fun, interactive, educational environment in which adults learn the importance of pretend play—and how best to help facilitate it—while children acquire and hone multiple developmental skills as they follow their imaginations.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is an independent, federal agency and the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. The IMLS’ mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. The agency’s grant-making, policy development and research helps libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more about the Institute, please visit