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Can’t live without it: demystifying the private collector by unpacking the “Rob Brooks Mary Pickford Collection”

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posted on 2021-06-08, 14:50 authored by Rebecca Zeidenberg
Private collectors have a long history of generous donations to cultural heritage institutions, but donors and said institutions have had a contentious relationship. Both private collector and institution have a different relationship to the objects in the collection and this is reflected in the narratives attached to them, which can create tensions between the private collector and the public institution that accepts the donation. Film memorabilia collections and donations are subject to these very same tensions, but they have not been discussed at length in academic literature. This thesis examines the “Rob Brooks Mary Pickford Collection” at the TIFF Film Reference Library (FRL). It assesses the emotional narrative of the collector, Rob Brooks, who as a private collector gifted his collection, as well as the aims of the cultural institution, the narratives that are attached to the collection once it received, and how touring the collection may change that narrative.





Master of Arts


Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Kate Watson