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Here at the Harvard Film Archive, we store motion picture films in inert, polypropylene film cans on cores made of the same plastic.  The cans provide protection in case of a water event, and are vented to give the film some breathing room.  The cans are round discs, like the film rolls that are housed inside.

When film arrives at the archive, however, it doesn’t always arrive in what we consider a proper film can.  (Cookie tins are suprisingly popular among collectors!)  What follows is an image gallery of unusual film containers that have arrived at the HFA over the past few years.


This film was not donated to the archive, but was brought in by a patron. It was stored in this box for decades.

Interior of the box.

Contained one 50' and one 100' 16mm film. From the Burr Collection.

Contained Crooner's Holiday (Del Lord, 1932). From the Burr Collection.

"Apple can" was a location in this collector's filing method. From the Burr Collection.

The "apple can" held a stack of 400' 16mm reels. From the Burr Collection.

This plastic trash can contained a stack of 16mm feature films. From the Burr Collection.

Metal trash cans, stored horizontally, contained 16mm films. From the Burr Collection.

These large food-grade cylindrical containers held 35mm reels. Stored horizontally on custom shelving. From the Burr Collection.

Cookie tin, Burr Collection.

Dry pint cardboard can held 100' 16mm reels, collection unknown.

Candy tin, held 16mm home movies, Carry Wagner Collection.