The Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center at the George Eastman Museum is responsible for the preservation and care of the museum’s collection materials. Conservation staff conduct research to advance the material understanding of all forms of photography and educate the public about historic photographic processes through photography workshops.
The museum's conservation laboratory was founded in 1975. The original facility, located in the basement of the historic mansion, was designed by Dr. Walter Clark, head of the Applied Photography Division at the Research Laboratories at Eastman Kodak Company. As a recognized expert on the deterioration mechanisms of photographs, Dr. Clark helped to build the laboratory’s international reputation. In 1989, the conservation laboratory was moved into the museum’s new gallery and archive building.
Two years later, the museum established the Certificate Program in Photographic Preservation and Archival Practice. Then, from 1999 to 2009, in collaboration with the Image Permanence Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the museum hosted the Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation, a two-year professional development program primarily funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Both programs brought national and international students and professionals to learn about identification, handling, conservation, and preservation of photographs.