Rochester’s Eastman House Photography Museum Puts on its Winter Coat

For film and photography buffs, the Eastman House in Rochester, NY is mecca.  The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film is the world’s oldest photography museum and film archive.  I could spend hours poking through the museum’s exhibits of antique cameras and installations of art photos.

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NY

In addition to the incredible collection of photography and film, the Eastman House also includes the mansion and gardens that was home to George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, from 1905-1932.

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NY

Over the holidays, the Eastman House embraces the seasonal spirit with decorations, a Gingerbread House display, a Festival of Trees, Holiday Wreaths, and screenings of holiday films.

Gingerbread House Display at the Eastman House in Rochester, NY

Upon entering, your senses are treated to the sights and smells of gingerbread.  With more than 70 houses designed by everyone from artists, professional bakers and decorators, hobbyists, to Scout troops, Youth groups, schools, and families.

Gingerbread House Display at the Eastman House in Rochester, NYGingerbread House Display at the Eastman House in Rochester, NY

The exhibit also features a fun scavenger hunt.  My daughter loved searching the details of the houses in order to answer the corresponding question – she also loved the treat received at the end for completing the hunt.

Gingerbread House Display at the Eastman House in Rochester, NY

The level of detail for some of the houses is exquisite.  For example, a Victorian Doll House included a fully decorated interior complete with red Christmas lights in the fireplace representing a lit fire warming the space.

Gingerbread House Display at the Eastman House in Rochester, NYGingerbread House Display at the Eastman House in Rochester, NYGingerbread House Display at the Eastman House in Rochester, NY

A new addition to the Eastman House holiday display is the Festival of Trees with 76 decorated Christmas trees ranging from 1-foot to 5-feet-tall, festooned with ornaments, baubles, and sparkles.

Festival of Trees at the Eastman House in Rochester, NYFestival of Trees at the Eastman House in Rochester, NY

The Breezeway connecting the museum to George Eastman’s historic house contains a holiday wreath display with over 25 different themed Christmas wreaths.  I particularly liked the wreath donated by Kodak, see if you can pick it out in the photos below.

Holiday Wreaths at the Eastman House in Rochester, NYHoliday Wreaths at the Eastman House in Rochester, NY

All of the Gingerbread Houses, Christmas Trees, and Holiday Wreaths are available via an ongoing silent auction, with the proceeds benefiting future restoration projects at the Eastman House.

Heading into George Eastman’s home, the National Historic Landmark house is also dressed in turn-of-the-20th-century holiday style from mid-November through New Year’s Day.  Decorations include an elaborately adorned grand staircase and fireplace mantel; a plethora of poinsettias; the formal dining room decorated for Christmas dinner; and decorated trees in each room, including an old-fashioned tree encircled by an antique toy train in the Living Room.  Every Sunday during the season, live music fills the mansion with holiday sounds, all free and included with museum admission.

Live Holiday Music on Sundays at the Eastman House

My only wish was that George Eastman’s prized elephant could sport a Santa hat – maybe it was still too warm and early in the season the day we visited.

Eastman House

The Eastman House includes a 500+ seat movie theater, the Dryden Theatre, used for film screenings.  November features animated films from famed director Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli; with a roster of holiday films such as Holiday Affair (1944), The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), and It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) in December.  For the full list of films, click here – theater admission is $8/adult and $6/child.

The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film is located at 900 East Avenue, Rochester, NY, and open 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday-Saturday; 11 am to 5 pm Sunday (Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day).  General museum admission is $12 adults; $10 seniors (60+); $5 students; and FREE for children 12 and under.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.