Restorations and Rediscoveries from the Collection

Sep 8–24, 2021


The Ploughshare. 1915. USA. Directed by John H. Collins. The Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1 The Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center

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Since the 1940s, the Museum of Modern Art has been home to two important collections of early film material: a group of several hundred nitrate prints and negatives from the Edison Film Manufacturing Company, and some 900 nitrate negatives from the Biograph Company, including hundreds of pioneering works by D. W. Griffith.

The work of restoring these films and returning them to circulation has continued ever since, in spite of major challenges. Although the photographic qualities of these negatives are extraordinary, most of them lack intertitles and have not been edited into final exhibition order. Each title requires a degree of scholarly application and technical care that has made progress steady but slow.

This series highlights restorations and rediscoveries from the Edison and Biograph collections from the last 10 years, bridging photochemical and digital restoration technologies. Many of these films are being seen on a big screen for the first time since they were made, over a hundred years ago. All offer insights into the development of film as an art form, as well as windows that open directly into the America of the early 20th century.

Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film. Thanks to Emily Rago, Guest Assistant, Film, Department of Visitor Engagement.

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

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This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].