Are we a museum?: TIFF's Search for an Identity

David Carey, Director of Government and Foundation Relations, TIFF


According to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), a museum is "a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment."

Since starting work full-time at TIFF in 2007, I still find myself asking: Are we a museum? Although perhaps best known for our flagship event, the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF has grown from a 10 day event into a year-round cultural institution. In September 2010, we entered a new chapter in our history with the opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox, a new filmhouse located in downtown Toronto.

Armed with a permanent facility, we are delighted to engage audiences in an exploration of the ongoing history of cinema via film screenings, lectures, learning activities, film festivals, and collections-based exhibitions - 365 days a year. Our screening series, TIFF Cinematheque, is internationally recognized for its carefully-curated film retrospectives, while our programming for children and youth continues to draw in crowds of all ages.

Our Film Reference Library (FRL), located onsite at TIFF Bell Lightbox, is a research center for film studies and film appreciation. The library holds the world's most extensive English language collection of Canadian film-related material plus the unique archival collections of Canada's most esteemed filmmakers. These Special Collections include costumes and props, artefacts, awards, posters, artwork, scripts, recorded interviews, production files, correspondence, and much more. We exhibit items from these Collections as well as touring object-based shows, in 2 onsite gallery spaces.

What does it mean to be a non-profit, collection holding, festival-running, exhibition-producing, educationally-driven institution? Who is TIFF? Are we a museum? And what does it mean to not know the answer?


Dave CareyAs TIFF’s new Director of Government & Foundation Relations, David is responsible for maximizing the public and foundation sectors’ support of the organization’s year-round activities at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Ontario’s new “home for film”. Carey first joined TIFF in 2005 as an eager volunteer. He holds a M.A. in Communications & Culture from Ryerson and York Universities and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Waterloo. He has previously worked at Bravo!FACT, The Canadian Stage, UW, and OP Trust.

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