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Eastman Museum celebrates Black History Month with Google Cultural Institute partnership 

click to enlarge "Harriet Tubman at home and her friends. Residents of the Home for the Aged and the Indigent Negroes, Auburn, N.Y., 1887" by an unknown photographer. This image is part of a digital exhibition Eastman Museum created in partnership with Google Cultural Institute.

PHOTO COURTESY GEORGE EASTMAN MUSEUM

"Harriet Tubman at home and her friends. Residents of the Home for the Aged and the Indigent Negroes, Auburn, N.Y., 1887" by an unknown photographer. This image is part of a digital exhibition Eastman Museum created in partnership with Google Cultural Institute.

Earlier this month, the George Eastman Museum launched an online exhibition of 44 photographs as part of the Google Cultural Institute's celebration of Black History Month.

These images, part of a virtual exhibition in collaboration with more than 40 other cultural and archival organizations -- including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the National Archives -- are accessible at g.co/blackhistory.

click to enlarge The iconic image, "Olympic Racial Protest," captured sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the medal ceremony. Unknown photographer. - PHOTO COURTESY GEORGE EASTMAN MUSEUM
  • PHOTO COURTESY GEORGE EASTMAN MUSEUM
  • The iconic image, "Olympic Racial Protest," captured sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the medal ceremony. Unknown photographer.

Eastman Museum's exhibition was curated by Jamie Allen, William Green, and Heather Shannon, from the Department of Photography.

"Our goal was to see what the history of photography told us about black history and culture," Allen says. "We found images of Black Americans in the earliest processes and were able to discuss Frederick Douglass's thoughts on the daguerreotype, show how photographers like Lewis Hine and Aaron Siskind used photography to promote social reform, and highlight some contemporary photographers who reflect on this history."

Spanning the history of photography from daguerreotypes to contemporary art, the Eastman Museum's online exhibition provides an exploration of black history and culture through photography. The selection of images features photographs made by known and unknown photographers, and includes portraits of important cultural figures such as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Paul Robeson, and Jesse Jackson. The works of contemporary Black photographers, such as Eli Reed, Mickalene Thomas, and DawoudBey, are also represented.

"Working with Google Cultural Institute allowed us to post items from our collection for educational use and to showcase them in a setting where others can view related topics with ease," Allen says. "It is also likely that some of the visitors to GCI's website have not heard of our museum, so it is wonderful to be able to share who we are with this new audience."

click to enlarge "Frederick Douglass, January 26, 1874," by J. H. Kent. - PHOTO COURTESY GEORGE EASTMAN MUSEUM
  • PHOTO COURTESY GEORGE EASTMAN MUSEUM
  • "Frederick Douglass, January 26, 1874," by J. H. Kent.

The entire digital exhibit includes thousands of artworks, artifacts, and stories from cultural organizations across the United States. Not only can visitors view the images and learn more about them through accompanying text, the platform also allows them to share, compare, or save specific images in a digital portfolio for future reference.

In addition, a selection of the photographs from the online exhibition will be on view at the museum as part of its History of Photography rotation that will open on March 12, 2016. For more information, visit eastman.org.

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