The theatre is the primary exhibition space for showcasing the museum's collection of motion pictures, recent preservations as well as travelling exhibitions, and premiers of new foreign, and indie films. To date, more than 13,000 film titles have been screened using the original Century projectors installed over fifty years ago. The Dryden Theatre attracts more than 40,000 visitors each year.
The Dryden Theatre was constructed in 1951 after George Eastman House received a generous donation from George and Ellen Dryden. Ellen Dryden was George Eastman’s niece. The first film to be shown at the Dryden was Jean Renoir’s silent film Nana (1924). James Card (1915 – 2000) established the motion picture collection at George Eastman House. Card was a pioneer in the archival world and a close friend and confidante of Henri Langlois of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris. Together, they helped contribute to the appreciation of film as an art form.
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