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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.