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Barry Lord


JULY 8, 1939 - MARCH 9, 2017

Putting People First

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Barry Lord, co-founder of Lord Cultural Resources, pioneer in museum planning and arts management, and celebrated author.

Born in Hamilton on July 8, 1939, Barry graduated from Delta Secondary School and McMaster University, and studied at Harvard University. He enrolled in the National Gallery of Canada museum training programme, launching a career that would transform our thinking about museums and cultural organizations.

In his early career at National Museums of Canada, Barry perceived the need for a more systematic approach to planning museums. Museum planning as a profession, however, didn’t exist -- so he invented it. In 1981, with his wife Gail Dexter Lord, he founded Lord Cultural Resources, and in 1983 published the world’s first book on museum planning, Planning our Museums/Planification de nos Musées. The approach was elegant in its simplicity with three sections: Planning for People, Planning for Collections, and Planning for Facilities. Putting the public first was a new idea at the time and has been the hallmark of the firm, its publications and its practice ever since.  

This message resonated with museum professionals around the world. Barry’s thirst for knowledge and care for peoples’ cultures inspired him to engage deeply and tirelessly with museum planning projects in every province and territory of Canada, throughout the US, the United Kingdom, Europe, and South, East, and West Asia.

Barry believed that sharing knowledge leads to new knowledge. That’s why he wrote and involved colleagues in writing the books that would become the core texts for the museum world: The Manual of Museum Planning (2012; 2003; 1999; 1991), The Manual of Museum Management (2009; 1997), The Manual of Museum Exhibitions (2014; 2001), and The Manual of Museum Learning (2015; 2007). Speaking at conferences and lecturing on museum studies were an important part of Barry’s practice. He loved teaching and his students loved him! In his last year, Barry was thrilled to be awarded an honorary LLD from his alma mater, McMaster University.

We at Lord Cultural Resources are committed to carrying on the tradition barry established of helping museums to be better places for people.

Memorial Wall

Share your memories, thoughts, and feelings about Barry. Add your message of remembrance to the wall, or send a private note.

Barry's influence on the museum field worldwide through his writing, research, thinking, questioning, probing and demands for rigor were so profound that it is difficult to summarize, grasp or begin to comprehend what he brought to the flowering of cultural institutions around the world. How amazing that his legacy will live on in the lives of so many people who visit, participate in and benefit from all the good work around the globe.

Marjorie Schwarzer
San Francisco, CA

A Man Who Shared!

I did not know Barry as well as I would have liked to.
Barry was always warm and friendly, and always willing to share what he knew.
I learned from Barry, there are more benefits to sharing what you know with others then holding on to it.
I thank Barry for his years of trust, friendship, and shared wisdom.
Gail and family, my most sincere condolences.

James Hungerford
Grand Rapids

Best teacher ever!

Barry taught at Conestoga College in 1969. I was a young student, typical of that time and place. Barry was only a few years older than most of his students but so much more open, positive, energetic and forward looking. He was a wonderful teacher.....kind, generous, encouraging. I have often thought of him over the years. Thank you, Barry.

Sandra Barton

Sincere Condolences

Dear Gail
Just knew this morning that Barry passed away, please accept my sincere condolences. I'm truly saddened by this loss, I worked very closely with him on the BDL Money Museum and other projects, I learned a lot from him and he was always available to help and assist.
May God bless his soul.

Samir Nicolas SADDI
Cairo, Egypt

Condolences to Gail & LCR

During the time I worked at Lord Cultural Resources I was impressed and inspired by Barry's integrity, intelligence and enthusiasm. Barry was a powerful positive force in the museum world, and I will miss hearing his latest ideas about culture. My condolences to Gail and family and to everyone at Lord Cultural Resources.

Brenda Taylor

Deep thanks for a life so well lived

Dear Gail and the rest of the Lord family, I was so sorry to hear of Barry's passing. I don't think I ever had the privilege of meeting him, but I have long been in awe of the passion, commitment and intelligence that he and Gail have invested in their clients, their company and the cultural sector as a whole, and the sense of joy and excitement they brought to every project. It must hurt like hell to lose him.

Susan B Rothschild
New York

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Ontario Lung Association
Make a Donation

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Ontario Lung Association. Friends might also consider consenting to organ donation, which made Barry’s last year possible.

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Barry Lord Scholarship
Curatorship & Scholarship

Barry believed that sharing knowledge leads to new knowledge. Speaking at conferences and lecturing on museum studies were an important part of Barry’s practice. He loved teaching and his students loved him!

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Publications Barry Lord

Barry wrote and involved colleagues in writing the books that would become the core texts for the museum world. He was always dedicated to thinking and writing about the meaning of culture.

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