Well, it’s beginning to, and what I see so far is very impressive. I just received a press release from the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film that the acclaimed Rochester institution is putting a selection of its photography on Flickr’s The Commons, along with the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, Brooklyn Museum, Australia’s Powerhouse Museum, and France’s Bibliothéque Toulouse.
There are 219 photographs on Flickr so far, out of their collection of over 400k, but I am sure many more will be added. I’m particularly interested in Eastman, because they are known for a longtime interest in nature and gardens; their gardens are famous and every year the institution holds a spring flower show, unusual for a museum. Not only that, they hosted the Heroes of Horticulture exhibition last year, and some other interesting shows related to the natural world. These photos are not for commercial use; they’re too lo-res for that, but they’re a great resource for education and entertainment, and have no copyright restrictions (with caveats).
The pictures above were made using the autochrome process, as explained here (from the press release): The process used a screen of tiny potato starch grains dyed orange-red, green and violet. Dusted onto a glass plate, the dyed grains were covered with a layer of sensitive panchromatic silver bromide emulsion. As light entered the camera, it was filtered by the dyed grains before it reached the emulsion. While the exposure time was very long, the plate could be processed easily by a photographer familiar with standard darkroom procedures. The result was a unique, realistic, positive color image on glass that required no further printing.