Barbara A. Tyler Award in Museum Leadership

The Barbara A. Tyler Award in Museum Leadership recognizes excellence in museum management and leadership within the Canadian museum community.

Dean Brinton, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum 

Dean Brinton suggests that what earned him the Barbara A. Tyler Award in Museum Leadership is his “really unique CV.”

“I’ve worked in the arts for a very long time, and I’ve been involved in many federal Crown corporations, not-for-profits and community foundations,” says Brinton, who is vice-chair of the board of trustees of the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum. “I’ve been really lucky, because I’ve had quite a broad experience in board governance and in management and in fundraising. And those are the three pillars of museums — together, of course, with the research and core programs that are the actual heart of the museum.”

Brinton is best known as founding director of The Rooms, the job that brought him back to his home province of Newfoundland after 40 years away. The Rooms complex was a merger of the province’s archives, art gallery and museum, and “I kind of had to bash them together and create a single institution, while respecting the disciplinary differences.” He stayed as director for almost 15 years, and the nomination for this award praised The Rooms as “one of the country’s most important cultural institutions.”

Brinton began as executive director of Debut Atlantic, a coproduction with CBC that toured emerging classical musicians around the Atlantic Provinces, for concerts later broadcast on CBC. “During the 11 years I was there I attended 554 performances in 40 different places, and really got to know Atlantic Canada,” he says.

Dean Brinton

He then started the Foundation for Heritage and the Arts in Nova Scotia, which raised “a few million bucks to help the province’s arts and heritage organizations improve their management and governance, and really get them out of debt.” It’s now the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia.

His federal appointments began with the Canada Council for the Arts in 1996. Today he’s also on the board of the Governor Generals Performing Arts Awards in Ottawa. “I’m hoping I’m still able to fit into my tuxedo when we can have live performances again.”

He has lived literally coast to coast, in seven different provinces. Brinton says of his cross-Canada experience, “I understand what the issues are in different parts of the country. I know what it feels like to live on the Prairies, and in Newfoundland, and in Toronto, and in Montreal.”

Today he’s particularly excited about the Museum of History’s work to build “really meaningful relationships with Canada’s Indigenous people.”

“There’s great consensus that it’s time to redress all of these inequities. There’s an especially strong role for museums in achieving that reconciliation.”

The Barbara A. Tyler award provides a $1000 prize to be gifted by the winner to a protégé. Mr. Brinton has selected Jason Hynes, Senior Technical consultant with The Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador. Jason Hynes is "highly respected and valued by everyone [at The Rooms Corporation] but particularly by me,” says Brinton, who relied on his knowledge, advice and judgment for nearly 15 years. “Jason Hynes is a remarkably resourceful leader who goes about the business of problem-solving in a quiet and assured manner. He has contributed greatly to the success of The Rooms over the years and I suspect that he is just getting started!”