Barbara A. Tyler at the CMA conference 1977


About the Awards

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Past Winners

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CMA Awards

Awards of Outstanding Achievement

Award of Excellence in Philanthropy

Award of Distinguished Service

Fellows of the CMA

Dr. Shirley L. Thomson
Young Curators Award

Partnership Awards

History Alive! Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums

ICOM Canada’s International Achievement Award

Awards for Volunteers

Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Museum Volunteer Award, presented by the Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums


Barbara A. Tyler Award In Museum Leadership

This award recognizes the exceptional contribution of the late Barbara A. Tyler to the Canadian museum community. Created at her request, supported by her personal generosity and supplemented by generous donations from many friends and admirers, this biennial award will celebrate — in her own words — "the best leadership in museum management in Canada".

Barbara Tyler spent over 30 years in areas of growing responsibility within the museum community, starting with the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art in Fort Worth, Texas in 1961. She moved to Canada in 1969 and worked in senior positions at National Historic Sites, the National Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of Civilization), the National Museums Corporation, the Glenbow Museum, and in 1986 became the Director of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg.

Barbara Tyler inspired a generation of museum professionals with her expertise, vision, warmth, leadership and strong will. She was an active supporter of the Canadian Museums Association and served as President from 1987-89. During her term she strengthened the CMA’s advocacy role during a challenging time, contributed to the restructuring of the national museums, lobbied for an updated national museums policy, inspired strong governance in museums, fought censorship legislation, and took strong positions on copyright issues, and on many other issues central to the effective practice of our profession and to the effective service and benefit of our museums to society.

In 1996 she was appointed a Fellow of the CMA. She also taught an annual course on museum management at the Banff Centre, and served as an advisor to many museums and young professionals across Canada. Barbara Tyler passed away in March 2007, following an all-too-short period of retirement.


The Award is open to all museum directors or senior managers, salaried or volunteer, in a CMA member institution in good standing.

The award will not be given posthumously.


The winner will receive a certificate and a $1000 gift to be presented to a protégé chosen by the Award winner, as a contribution to his/her training — to the skills and knowledge transmission essential to building leadership capacity. The Award winner and his/her designated protégé will be asked to contribute to, and be featured in a special article in Muse magazine, the voice of Canada’s museum community.


The Award is presented every two years (2017, 2019, 2021...)

November 15, 2021


The Barbara Tyler Award will recognize an individual who has demonstrated leadership in taking his or her museum to a new level of contribution to Canadian society.

The specific criteria capture the many different ways demonstrating leadership:

  • Demonstration of powerful community engagement that has advanced the institution and its interests.
  • Positive impact upon the well being of the institution through development and adoption of a sustainable business model which has been proven to be effective.
  • Encouragement of creative innovation in the context of achieving positive operating outcomes.
  • Enhancement of the institution’s pursuit of the highest ethical standards.
  • Capital Projects will be considered from the perspective of their increased value and contribution to Canadian society and the museum’s community.
  • Other appropriate leadership criteria such as vision, dedication, integrity etc.

Nomination Instructions

Complete the Barbara A. Tyler Award in Museum Leadership nomination form, attach the required documents and send to

  • Self nominations are not accepted.
  • The Award is open to all museum directors and senior managers, salaried and volunteer, at museums in Canada which are CMA members in good standing.
  • Members of the jury are not eligible, nor are their institutions.
  • Nominations must be made by a third party with individual or institutional membership in the CMA.
Nomination Form — PDF              Nomination Form — Word