The Family Camera | Level 4, Roloff Beny Gallery

May 6, 2017 to October 29, 2017

One exhibition

The Family Camera invites you to see family photographs differently. Tucked away in a box, framed on the wall, or saved to the cloud, personal photos are all around us in abundance. For Canadians, family photographs are often linked to stories of migration. Whether recent or in the distant past, over short or long distances, international or even within Canada, photographs play an important role in these experiences. From departures and arrivals to everyday moments and milestones, they capture these journeys and keep us connected; even the family photos that are lost or destroyed along the way can still linger in our imaginations.

Exploring the relationship between photography and the idea of family, The Family Camera looks at family photographs as a cultural practice through the lens of migration. It considers the social, political, and technological influences that impact how we conceptualize and represent family. Cultural shifts, such as same sex marriage and transnational adoptions enhance our notion of family, while the arrival of Polaroid cameras, smart phones, and the digital age have transformed the moments we capture and how we share them. With nearly every photograph featured in this exhibition coming from a Canadian home, The Family Camera sheds light on how family photos reflect and shape our sense of self, family, community, and nation.

Discover the connections between family, photography, and migration and bring your idea of family into focus.

Two venues

The Family Camera is presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM), with works on display at both venues. 

Visit both Museums for the full exhibition experience:

  • At the ROM from May 6 to October 29, 2017*
  • At the AGM from May 4 to August 27, 2017 - Please note this section is now closed.

*The Family Camera at the ROM includes a video installation by Deanna Bowen that is approximately 40 minutes in duration. We encourage you to allow yourself a little extra time during your visit to experience this piece in its entirety.

#ROMfamcam Blogs

Over the course of the exhibition, we will be posting blogs with more information about the exhibition. Please click on the titles below to access blog content.

1. Collaboration, Family and Photography: The Process of Creating an Installation for The Family Camera Exhibition

2. The Living Room: Photography in the Public and Private

3. The Living Room: Creative Team & List of Works Cited



Organized by the Royal Ontario Museum with the support of The Family Camera Network and presented concurrently at the ROM and the Art Gallery of Mississauga. Curated by Deepali Dewan, Jennifer Orpana, Thy Phu, Julie Crooks, and Sarah Bassnett, with the assistance of Sarah Parsons and Silvia Forni. Special Thanks to: Toronto Photography Seminar, Digital Futures Graduate Program at OCAD University, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Ryerson University’s Photography + Film Preservation and Collections Management Graduate Program, Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, and Western University. The Family Camera features over 200 objects, mostly photographs and stories collected through The Family Camera Network, a public archive project that collects family photographs and their stories and preserves them for future generations. It also includes loans from private and public collections, and new works by artists Jeff Thomas, Deanna Bowen, and Dinh Q. Lê. An immersive installation exploring the living room space where family photos live and the stories they tell has been created by OCAD University’s Digital Futures program.


Comment by Michelle Balcers

Hi there, I am a high school teacher and am hoping to bring my students to the Family Camera exhibit. Could you please tell me how much tickets for 10 kids would be? I would like to book for Friday, May 26.

Comment by Lead Concierge

Hi Michelle,
The Family Camera is included with General Admission.
General admission for children aged 4 to 14 years of age are 14$. Please give us a call and our Group Sales can help you in acquiring tickets.


Comment by vic unruh

my wife deby longpre s mother pauline turgeon had a picture of 24 in a family picturei in a picture in front of a log house in asterville near north bay at the same time as the quintuplets in callender 9059374802

Comment by Sara D.

So odd! My mother's name is Barbara, she looks like the woman is the photo from behind, and my father is from India. We often took visiting Indian relatives to Niagara falls. The boy in the photo looks a lot like my younger brother at that age, and we are probably the same age as the children in the photo. So neat to see another Canadian family that is so much like ours!

Comment by Kat

Is this exhibit coming to Calgary? Is there a way to access the video piece online? As a fellow photographer, I'd love to experience it but am living across the country. TIA

Comment by Lead Concierge

The Family Camera exhibit will not travel at this time. After its closing, the material was returned to the ROM’s storage where The Family Camera Network archive will be preserved for posterity or was returned to the 63 lenders who contributed to the exhibition. 

Comment by Sophie Guignard

Hello, Is there a catalogue of the exhibition we could buy or a pamphlet of the exhibition?
Thank you!