George Eastman Museum launches restoration of the Colonnade

Aug 12, 2019

Credit George Eastman Museum

There’s a big renovation project underway at the George Eastman Museum.

The restoration involves the Colonnade, a passageway between the Palm House and the dining room in George Eastman’s historic mansion.

Museum Director Bruce Barnes says it’s a critical part of the museum since it is the only interior route between the museum’s main entrance and galleries, and the historic mansion and Terrace Garden.

But Barnes says it needs some work.

“It has deteriorated in a number of ways, the floor which is steel-reinforced concrete has deteriorated, the windows are no longer airtight or watertight, and the roof is sagging, it needs to be replaced. And actually the support structure for the roof is sagging,” Barnes said.

Barnes says great care is being taken to meet preservation standards.

“It was very carefully done with respect to the original design of the house, it was reviewed by the New York state Historic Preservation Office and approved, and it was approved by the Rochester Preservation board as well,” Barnes explained. He says the work will also include a new insulated glass system and a new heating and cooling system.

“The experience in the colonnade will be vastly improved because it won’t be cold in the winter and it won’t be hot in the summer. We’ll be able to have good climate control year round and we’ll also just have a much better visual experience within it,” Barnes said.

Looking at the Colonnade through the Terrace Garden
Credit George Eastman Museum

During the renovations project the Colonnade will be closed and museum visitors will be rerouted through the Terrace Garden through October 10. During that time, the Dryden Theatre will temporarily close since the colonnade serves as a path for an emergency exit from the theater.

The Colonnade restoration is the largest project in the ongoing preservation of the historic structures of George Eastman’s estate. Restoration has been completed on the Palm House, the porte cochere, the conservatory roof and clerestory windows, the North Organ, and the East Porch. The next project will be the restoration of 68 windows in the mansion.