Why You Should Give to the Camera Heritage Museum

The Camera Heritage Museum is one of the very few true camera museums in America. The George Eastman House in Rochester New York is the one major museum dedicated to collecting cameras. There are many other museums that have cameras in their collection but the cameras are not on full display as they are at the Camera Heritage Museum. Thus we offer a very rare facility to the public. Because of this our museum in little Staunton, Virginia will become a destination known throughout the world for cameras.

In the last few years, since 2011, we became organized as a non profit museum, we have been visited by people from over 100 countries and 48 states. Our visitors have included well-known photographers and representatives of internationally known camera collector groups. These collectors recognize the significance of our collection.

We received our first camera collection from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. This gift is a perfect example of how collectors and museums are becoming unable to maintain a camera collection given the economic and space constraints of their facilities and the conflict of their missions with camera collecting. It is in everyone's best interests that these collections find a home where they will be preserved and displayed in a manner that coincides with their benefactor’s wishes. And even though we are much smaller than the George Eastman House we have taken up a position along them in the limited world of camera museums.

Through the reach of the World Wide Web the Camera Heritage Museum’s website will give Staunton Virginia statewide, national and international recognition. And our visitors will bring added revenue to the tourism trade here. This is a win for the local community.

And now is the perfect time for the Camera Heritage Museum.  With the revolution of digital photography a great number of little-known private collections of film cameras will soon be in need of a permanent home. Today's younger generation has no historical link to traditional wet process photography. Therefore those collectors of film cameras are facing a succeeding generation that has little in common with their experiences and their love for film photography. And because their collections are private they may not have the resources to ensure the existence of their collections past their own lifetimes. They need a museum like the Camera Heritage Museum to ensure the preservation of their collections.

Why are we in Staunton Virginia?  Staunton is a city full of history.  This was the largest city west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1747. Photography started here in 1847 just 9 years after its inception in 1839 in Paris, France. Several well-known photographers like Michael Miley. Robert E. Lee became fast friends with him when he came to Lexington, Va. Mr J.H. Burdett from Staunton taught Miley the photographic trade after the civil war in which he was a sketch artist before the war. Barnett Clinedinst Senior and Junior early Staunton photographers left Staunton and then Junior became photographer for 3 presidents including Woodrow Wilson and additionally Clinedinst Senior invented the reflex viewer which inverted the image in field type cameras while in Staunton in 1872. Our museum complements the history of Staunton. We're researching the history of local photographers and their photography. We are showcasing the history of Staunton to put our research into perspective.  And we complement the efforts of other museums and local organizations such as Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Museum, Augusta Historical Society and the Frontier Culture Museum.

Why do we need your help? We're starting from very humble beginnings. We do not need to purchase or build a building but we do need to pay rent for the space we are using. We do not need to buy a significant collection because we're lucky enough to already have one. And as we have said we plan to grow our collection through many gifts. But there are still some costs in growing the collection. We will limit the costs of curating and storing our cameras but we cannot eliminate all costs. We can survive on a low-budget but without the budget there will be no museum.

What would we like to do? We do need to expand our exhibit floor space. We need to expand our storage space. Our patron services are very limited now. We need better restrooms, an elevator and a gift store.  Lastly our location is showing the age of a 47-year-old building.

The Camera Heritage Museum is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation. Your contributions are tax-deductible.  Fed ID 45-3180619.