Image Permanence Institute Director Honored for Contributions to Image Preservation

IS&T honors James Reilly with HP Image Permanence Award

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The Society for Imaging Science and Technology has awarded James Reilly, founder and director of the Image Permanence Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology, the HP Image Permanence Award, recognizing him for outstanding contributions in advancing the longevity of photographic and fine arts images.

Reilly receives a $10,000 award for raising awareness about the effect of storage and usage conditions on permanence.

“My entire career has been about the preservation of imagery both old and new,” says Reilly. “We’ve done a lot to advance that goal at the Image Permanence Institute. I’ve been writing, speaking and teaching about permanence for more than 25 years. And the fact that it’s the first time the award has been given, endows it with some special significance for me. By creating this award, the Hewlett-Packard Company shows its corporate commitment to the importance of image permanence, not only for its own company but to society.”

Reilly, a highly recognized scientist in the field of image permanence, serves as a consultant to many libraries, museums and archives including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the New York Public Library. He is also the co-director of the Advanced Residency Program in Photograph Conservation at the George Eastman House.

In 1985, Reilly founded the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), a university based, non-profit research laboratory devoted to scientific research in the preservation of visual and other forms of recorded information. It’s the world’s largest independent laboratory with this specific scope. RIT and the Society for Imaging Science and Technology are the laboratory’s co-sponsors.

“This award recognizes outstanding scientific and educational contributions to the longevity of photographs and fine art created using digital methods,” says Rita Hofmann, conference vice president for IS&T and research and development director for Ilford Imaging. “Few individuals incorporate all that this award is meant to honor, as does James Reilly. The IPI lab he founded and guides has advanced the knowledge of photo image degradation and has evolved into the leading independent research facility in the world for preservation of images, with recognized high scientific standards. As the head of IPI, Reilly has studied and helped save numerous photo collections in many part of the world.”

Currently, IPI is embarking on an initiative to study the preservation characteristics of the most common digital output systems including inkjet and dye sublimation. From collecting existing information and original research, IPI hopes to ultimately create a Web site that could serve as a research and teaching tool for librarians, archivists and museum personnel around the world.

IPI has also created a Web site targeted at consumers at large such as photographers and scrapbook enthusiasts. The site,, answers commonly asked questions about how to care for family photographs. Recent articles about image permanence along with book reviews are also provided.