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Cameron, Duncan

Duncan Ferguson Cameron, one of the most influential museum leaders of the 20th century, died in Calgary on Saturday, April 29, 2006. He was born in Toronto where he started his museum career. He began at the Royal Ontario Museum in 1956 and worked for several years under the close mentorship of ROM director Theodore Allen Heinrich. He subsequently formed Janus Museum Consultants whose first major contract was the Ontario Museum of Science and Technology, now the Ontario Science Centre. After restructuring the Canadian Conference of the Arts and working on cultural policy, he returned to the museum as director of the Brooklyn Museum. In 1977, he became Director of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and was appointed Director Emeritus on his retirement.

He is especially well known for his article “The Museum: The Temple or the Forum,” which is still published and cited years later. Throughout his career, he was always concerned with the meaning of museums, “the why,” and had continued to write, research and present papers to the museum community, most recently to the international committee on museology of ICOM, the International Council of Museums, which met in Calgary in 2005. He traveled widely and was active internationally through ICOM and the Commonwealth Association of Museums. He was regarded as one of the founders of “new museology” along with Georges-Henri Rivi_re and Hugues de Varine (France), John Kinnard (United States) and Mario Vasquez (Mexico). He spoke and wrote widely and in 1995 spent a year in New Zealand as a Visiting Teaching Fellow at Massey University, where he worked with eight graduate students in museum studies. He regarded this time as one of the most rewarding years of his professional life. It also enormously enriched his personal life as he became very close to the Maori culture and people during that period.

Duncan Cameron was the President of the Commonwealth Association of Museums (CAM) from 1983 to 1989. Under his direction CAM took on new vitality and he remained active in CAM in various positions until his death.

In 1985 he was awarded the Canadian Museums Association Award of Merit and in 1992 he was made a Fellow of the CMA. He was a Fellow of the Museums Association (UK) and was presented with the Cowrie Circle pin as a member of the Commonwealth Association of Museums Cowrie Circle, CAM’s highest honour (2000). In 2005 he received the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award from the Alberta Museums Association.

Duncan Cameron was often controversial and always challenging and provocative. He was for many of his colleagues the best museum director in Canada, a focused visionary with high standards and a wide and expert knowledge of all aspects of museum work. Most of all he was a great and generous mentor and friend who never forgot the people behind the scenes and helped to launch many colleagues on museum careers.

His wife Nancy Tousley Cameron and his children Seana and David Cameron survive him.

A celebration of Duncan Cameron’s life will be held on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer (218 7th Ave. S.E), Calgary, AB. Forward condolences through In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Duncan F. Cameron Memorial Scholarship Fund in care of McInnis and Holloway, 2720 Centre Street North, Calgary, AB. T2E 2V6.

In living memory of Duncan Cameron, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH Telephone: (403) 276-2296.

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