Dr. Anthony Bannon was executive director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College in Buffalo, N.Y. In 2008, the Burchfield Penney expanded to a new $33 million freestanding facility on the Buffalo State College campus.
Bannon served as the director of Cultural Affairs at the State University of New York College at Buffalo and director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center from 1985-1996. His first tenure at the Burchfield Penney was marked by significant growth and pivotal acquisitions to the collection, including 1,485 objects from collector Charles Rand Penney. He also established key endowments and community partnerships that remain central to the Burchfield Penney’s exhibition and collections programming. His book Photo Pictorialists of Buffalo won the American Photographic Historical Society’s merit award and his writing on deafness won the Gallaudet University Award.
Before re-joining the Burchfield Penney, Bannon was the seventh director of George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, N.Y. George Eastman House was founded in 1947 and is the world’s oldest and largest independent museum of photography and motion pictures.
During his tenure, George Eastman House launched two world-renowned graduate photographic and film preservation schools and a post- graduate school with Rochester Institute of Technology. He directed alliances with museums and collectors in major U.S. cities, in addition to acquiring important collections from photographers and filmmakers. He stepped down last year and was named Eastman House honorary trustee, director emeritus and senior scholar. Bannon’s recent publications include essays in the catalog on the photographers Steve McCurry, Diane Bush, Hiroshi Watanabe, Roger Eberhard, Monika Merva, Alfredo D’Amato, Chris Usher and Stanford Lipsey.
In 2012, Bannon was awarded the St. Bonaventure University Gaudete Medal, the university’s highest honor, George Eastman House Medal of Honor, and Britain’s Royal Photographic Society’s J. Dudley Johnston Award for his leadership in historic research. He has also been recognized by the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester with the Outstanding Achievement Award, and as CEO of the Year by the Public Relations Society of America, Rochester Chapter. He was named Outstanding Arts Administrator of the Year by Buffalo’s Chamber of Commerce and Arts Council.
In 2007 Bannon earned the Golden Career Award from the FOTOfusion Festival of Photography & Digital Imaging. He was recognized for his “far-reaching leadership and scholarship in the cultural community” and for having “given unstintingly of his time and effort” to his museum and as a board member for several organizations. “Most important, he is one of the most efficient and effective museum directors today,” noted Arnold H. Drapkin, director of FOTOfusion and former Picture Editor for Time magazine, who presented the award.
Both the Burchfield Penney and George Eastman House museums received the New York State Governor’s Award and accreditation from the American Association of Museums under Bannon’s leadership.
Bannon was a board member for the Rochester School for the Deaf and Rochester International Fringe Festival. He currently serves on the boards of the Richardson Olmsted Corporation, New York State Regents Advisory Council for Museums, and The Photo Review Magazine published in Philadelphia. Nationally he served on the Smithsonian Secretary’s Council (Washington, D.C.), Santa Fe Center for the Visual Arts (New Mexico), New York Council on the Humanities (Board of Directors and Executive Committee), the Alliance of New York State Art Organizations (Executive Committee), Palm Springs Photo Festival, and the New York State Association of Museums.
He began his career as a filmmaker and a journalist, serving as the arts editor and critic for the Buffalo Evening News and the Buffalo News from 1969 to 1985. His film work was selected by legendary filmmaker and photographer Willard Van Dyke for showing at the Flaherty Film Festival, seen in museums and art centers around the world. His essays have appeared in Film Culture, Afterimage and Connoisseur magazines.
As a filmmaker, Bannon worked with Elaine Summer’s Experimental Intermedia Foundation in New York, which linked film, sound and dance (Illuminated Workingman), as well as with Ed Emshwiller (Positive Negative Electronic Faces, produced by a Videospace Experiment grant). He was a film artist in residence at Artpark in Lewiston, New York, Nexus Gallery in Philadelphia and St. Bonaventure University. He was a guest critic at the Arden House Seminar on “The Independent Artist and Public Television” and was a video technician for the Open Circuits Conference at the Museum of Modern Art.
Bannon earned a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Bonaventure University, and a Master’s Degree in Media Studies and Ph.D. Cultural Studies, both from the English Department at the State University of New York at Buffalo.