We are witnessing the historic transformation of photography from tangible objects - prints and negatives - into bits, bytes, and pixels. This exciting change requires a response to preserve the language of photography as a physical medium. The Lens Media Lab is a research lab dedicated to meeting this challenge by developing methodologies that characterize and interpret the material history of the printed photograph, providing researchers in the sciences and the humanities innovative tools for more nuanced and incisive understanding. Housing the world’s largest reference collection of photographic paper - the genome of black and white photography – the LML ensures the preservation of this material and manages its access for teaching and learning.
Approaching cultural heritage collections as datasets, the LML is forming numerous fruitful collaborations, within IPCH, across Yale, and more broadly with partners in many of the world’s leading collecting institutions. Though mainly focused on photography, this work also encompasses a wide range of media from Rembrandt etchings, 18th century American glass, and modern paintings on canvas.
Founded in 2015, through a gift from the John Pritzker Family Fund, the Lens Media Lab is part of the Institute for the Preservation Cultural Heritage, one of seven research institutes on Yale’s West Campus.