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David Liss Honoured as Director Emeritus

Celebrating David's Achievements over His Distinguished Career with MOCA Toronto

After twenty years working tirelessly to establish a permanent museum of contemporary art in Toronto, David Liss has been appointed the honorific position of Director Emeritus. With thanks and gratitude, the Board of Directors, Executive Director and CEO Kathleen Bartels, and staff recognize David’s achievements over his distinguished career with the institution. As Director Emeritus, David will be on hand, as needed, to share information on historical and archival projects for the organization and provide advice on policy and strategic issues related to the Museum’s affairs.

David moved from Montreal to Toronto in December 2000, accepting the Director/Curator’s role at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, a City of Toronto-affiliated institution that existed as the Art Gallery of North York from 1993 to 1998. In 2005, David oversaw the move and reopening of MOCCA in the heart of one of Toronto’s most vibrant artistic, residential, and commercial districts on Queen St. West. As he developed the scope and accomplishments of the organization, his mission was to establish an internationally-recognized, permanent museum of contemporary art in Canada’s largest urban centre.

David always ensured strong support for local artists and initiated dynamic partnerships and collaborations of note. His network facilitated frequent alliances with major partners, including the National Gallery of Canada, Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Sobey Art Foundation, and the Toronto International Film Festival. David also established a strong publishing thread realizing twenty books on art, artists, and exhibitions between 2001–2016.

While searching for a site to establish a permanent home for MOCCA, David identified development partner Castlepoint/Numa and launched a project that saw the Museum, now the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA), open the doors of its current home on Sterling Road in Toronto’s west end in September 2018.

David’s exhibition BELIEVE launched the new venue and saw over 32,000 people attend during its run. The exhibition included new commissions by Toronto-based artists Nep Sidhu and Rajni Perera, as well as a specially conceived wall text by internationally-acclaimed artist Barbara Kruger. In all, 16 artists provided perspectives on how we believe and perceive through a variety of media: Can Altay, Matilda Aslizadeh, Carl Beam, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Awol Erizku, Meschac Gaba, Kendell Geers, Barbara Kruger, Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Rajni Perera, Jeremy Shaw, Nep Sidhu, Maya Stovall, and Tim Whiten.

Image: Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Nicholas Galanin, David Liss, Nep Sidhu, Kahil El’Zabar (from left to right) at the opening of BELIEVE, MOCA Toronto, 2018. Photo credit: Tom Sandler.