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Royal Ontario Museum

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Title: Royal Ontario Museum  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Daniel Libeskind, Edmund Boyd Osler (Ontario politician), McLaughlin Planetarium, Dead Sea Scrolls, Charles Trick Currelly
Collection: 1914 Establishments in Ontario, Art Deco Architecture in Canada, Art Museums and Galleries in Ontario, Asian Art Museums, Daniel Libeskind Buildings, Egyptological Collections in Canada, History Museums in Ontario, Museums Established in 1914, Museums in Toronto, Museums of Ancient Greece, Museums of Ancient Near East, Museums of Ancient Rome, Natural History Museums in Canada, Organizations Based in Canada with Royal Patronage, Pearson and Darling Buildings, Rotundas (Architecture), Royal Ontario Museum
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum
French: Musée royal de l'Ontario
Royal Ontario Museum is located in Toronto
Location of the gallery in Toronto
Established 16 April 1912 (1912-04-16)
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Collection size over 6,000,000
Visitors over 1,000,000
Director Janet Carding
Public transit access St. George)
TTC buses
Website .ca.on.romwww

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM, French: Musée royal de l'Ontario) is a museum of art, world culture and natural history in Toronto, Canada. It is one of the largest museums in North America, the largest in Canada, and attracts over one million visitors every year, the second most for a Canadian art museum.[1] The museum is north of Queen's Park, in the University of Toronto district, with its main entrance on Bloor Street West. The Museum subway station is named after the ROM, and since 2008, it is decorated to resemble the institution's collection.

Established on 16 April 1912 and opened on 19 March 1914, the museum has maintained close relations with the University of Toronto throughout its history, often sharing expertise and resources.[2] The museum was under the direct control and management of the University of Toronto until 1968, when it became an independent institution.[3] Today, the museum is Canada's largest field-research institution, with research and conservation activities that span the globe.[4]

With more than six million items and forty galleries, the museum's diverse collections of world culture and natural history contribute to its international reputation.[4] The museum contains notable collections of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites, Near Eastern and African art, Art of East Asia, European history, and Canadian history. It houses the world's largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale with more than 150,000 specimens.[5] The museum also contains an extensive collection of design and fine arts, including clothing, interior, and product design, especially Art Deco.


  • History 1
  • Buildings and architecture 2
    • Original building and eastern wing 2.1
    • Curatorial centre 2.2
    • The Crystal 2.3
  • Galleries 3
    • Natural History galleries 3.1
      • Fossils and evolution 3.1.1
      • Earth and space 3.1.2
    • World Culture galleries 3.2
      • Canadiana 3.2.1
      • East Asian 3.2.2
      • Ancient 3.2.3
      • Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and South Asian 3.2.4
      • Middle Eastern 3.2.5
      • European 3.2.6
      • Costumes and textiles 3.2.7
    • Hands-on galleries 3.3
    • Institute for Contemporary Culture gallery 3.4
  • Accessibility 4
    • Accessibility services 4.1
    • Royal Ontario Museum Community Access Network (ROMCAN) 4.2
  • In fiction 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


East-facing façade of the Royal Ontario Museum, built in 1933.
Michael Lee-Chin Crystal opened in June 2007, an addition to the Royal Ontario Museum.

The Royal Ontario Museum was formally established on 16 April 1912,[6][7] and was jointly governed by the Government of Ontario and the University of Toronto.[8] Its first assets were transferred from the University and the provincial Department of Education,[6] coming from its predecessor the Museum of Natural History and Fine Arts at the Toronto Normal School.[9] On 19 March 1914, at 3:00 pm, the Duke of Connaught, also the Governor General of Canada, officially opened the Royal Ontario Museum to the public.[7] The museum’s location at the edge of Toronto's built-up area, far from the city's central business district, was selected mainly for its proximity to the University of Toronto. The original building was constructed on the western edge of the property along the university's Philosopher's Walk, with its main entrance facing out onto Bloor Street housing five separate museums of the following fields: Archaeology, Palaeontology, Mineralogy, Zoology, and Geology. This was the first phase of a two-part construction plan that intended on expanding the museum towards Queen's Park Crescent, ultimately creating an H-shaped structure.

The first expansion to the Royal Ontario Museum publicly opened on 12 October 1933.[10] The renovation saw the construction of the south wing fronting onto Queen's Park, and required the demolition of Argyle House, a Victorian mansion once located at 100 Queen's Park. As this occurred during the Great Depression, an effort was made to use primarily local building materials and to make use of workers capable of manually excavating the building's foundations.[10] Teams of workers alternated weeks of service due to the physically draining nature of the job.

In 1947, the ROM was dissolved as a body corporate, with all assets transferred to the University of Toronto.[11] This would continue until 1968, when the Museum and the McLaughlin Planetarium were separated from the University to form a new corporation.[12]

On 26 October 1968, the ROM opened the McLaughlin Planetarium on the south end of the property after receiving a $2 million donation from Colonel R. Samuel McLaughlin.[13] By the 1980s, however, the planetarium’s audiences were dwindling, and the facility was forced to shut down in November 1995, due to budget cuts.[13] The space temporarily reopened from 1998 to 2002, after being leased to Children's Own Museum. In 2009, the ROM sold the building to the University of Toronto for $22 million, and ensured that it would continue to be used for institutional and academic purposes.[14][15]

The second major addition to the museum was the Queen Elizabeth II Terrace Galleries on the north side of the building and a curatorial centre built on the south, which started in 1978 and was completed in 1984. The new construction meant that a former outdoor "Chinese Garden" to the north of the building facing Bloor, along with an adjoining indoor restaurant, had to be dismantled. Opened in 1984 by Queen Elizabeth II, a $55 million expansion took the form of layered volumes, each rising layer stepping back from Bloor Street — hence creating a layered terrace effect. The design of this expansion won a Governor General's Award in Architecture.[16]

In 1989, activists complained about its Into the Heart of Africa exhibit, which featured stereotypes of Africans, forcing the curator, Jeanne Cannizzo, to resign.[17]

Beginning in 2002, the museum underwent a major renovation and expansion project dubbed as Renaissance ROM. The Provincial and Federal governments, both supporters of this venture, contributed $60 million towards the project.[18] The campaign aimed not only to raise annual visitor attendance from 750,000 to between 1.3 and 1.6 million, but also to generate additional funding opportunities to support the museum's research, conservation, galleries, and educational public programs.[19] The centrepiece of the project, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, was a major addition to the building's original framework. The structure was created by architect Daniel Libeskind, whose design was selected from among 50 finalists in an international competition.[20] The design saw the Terrace Galleries torn down (the curatorial centre to the south remains) and replaced with a Deconstructivist crystalline-form structure, named after Michael Lee-Chin who donated $30 million towards its construction. Existing galleries and buildings were also upgraded, along with the installation of multiple new exhibits over a period of months. The first phase of the Renaissance ROM project, the Ten Renovated Galleries in the Historic Buildings, opened to the public on 26 December 2005. The Architectural Opening for the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, however, took place years later on 2 June 2007.[19] The final cost of the project was approximately C$270 million.[21]

Buildings and architecture

Original building and eastern wing

The mosaic ceiling of the rotunda. The middle of the dome reads, "That all men may know His work."
Interior atrium linking the Philosopher's Walk wing with the Queen's Park wing

Designed by Toronto architects Frank Darling and John A. Pearson,[22] the architectural style of the original building is Italianate Neo-Romanesque, popular throughout North America until the 1870s. The structure is heavily massed and punctuated by rounded and segmented arched windows with heavy surrounds and hood mouldings. Other features include applied decorative eave brackets, quoins and cornices.

The eastern wing facing Queen's Park was designed by Alfred H. Chapman and James Oxley. Opened in 1933, it included the museum's elaborate art deco, Byzantine-inspired rotunda and a new main entrance. The linking wing and rear (west) façade of the Queen's Park wing were originally done in the same yellow brick as the 1914 building, with minor Italianate detailing. However, the Queen's Park façade of the expansion broke away from the heavy Italianate style of the original structure. It was built in a neo-Byzantine style with rusticated stone, triple windows contained within recessed arches, and different-coloured stones arranged in a variety of patterns. This development from the Roman-inspired Italianate to a Byzantine-influenced style reflected the historical development of Byzantine architecture from Roman architecture. Common among neo-Byzantine buildings in North America, the façade also contains elements of Gothic Revival in its relief carvings, gargoyles and statues. The ornate ceiling of the rotunda is covered predominantly in gold back-painted glass mosaic tiles, with coloured mosaic geometric patterns and images of real and mythical animals.

Writing in the Journal of the [23]

The original building and the 1933 expansion have been listed since 1973 as heritage buildings of Toronto.[24] In 2005, a major renovation of the heritage wings saw the galleries made larger, windows uncovered, and the original early-20th-century architecture made more prominent. The exteriors of the heritage buildings were cleaned and restored. The restoration of the 1914 and 1933 buildings was the largest heritage project undertaken in Canada.[25] The renovation also included the newly restored Rotunda with reproductions of the original oak doors, a restored axial view from the Rotunda west through to windows onto Philosophers' Walk, and ten renovated galleries comprising a total of 90,000 square feet (8,000 m2).[26]

In the master plan designed by Darling and Pearson in 1909, the ROM took a form similar to that of J.N.L. Durand's ideal model of the museum (published in the early 19th century). It was envisioned as a square plan with corridors running through the centre of the composition, converging in the middle with a domed rotunda. Overall, it referenced the upper-class palaces of the 17th and 18th centuries, and aimed at having a strong sense of monumentality. All the architectural elements—the deep cornice, decorative top, eave brackets—add to this strength that the ROM possessed, as it was purely a structure with the function of collecting, but not of exhibiting.[27]

Curatorial centre

Designed by Toronto architect Gene Kinoshita, with Mathers & Haldenby, the curatorial centre forms the southern section of the museum. Completed in 1984, it was built during the same expansion as the former Queen Elizabeth II Terrace Galleries which stood on north side of the museum. The architecture is a simple modernist style of poured concrete, glass, and pre-cast concrete and aggregate panels.

The curatorial centre houses the museum's administrative and curatorial services, and provides storage for artifacts that are not on exhibit.

In 2006, the curatorial centre was renamed to Louise Hawley Stone Curatorial Centre in honor of the late Mrs. Louise Hawley Stone. Mrs. Stone devoted herself to the ROM throughout her life, and she donated a number of artifacts and various collections to the museum. In her will, she transferred $49.7 million (Cdn) to the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust which was created to help with the upkeep of the building and to the acquisition of new artifacts.[28]

The Crystal

"The Crystal", new entrance of the ROM

Interior of the Crystal

The new main entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum, Daniel Libeskind's The Crystal, first opened in 2007.[29] The Deconstructivist crystalline form is clad in 25 percent glass and 75 percent aluminium, sitting on top of a steel frame. The Crystal's canted walls do not touch the sides of the existing heritage buildings, but are used to close the envelope between the new form and existing walls. These walls act as a pathway for pedestrians to travel safely across "The Crystal".

The building's design is similar to some of Libeskind's other works, notably the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the London Metropolitan University Graduate Centre, and the Fredric C. Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum.[30] The steel framework was manufactured and assembled by Walters Inc. of Hamilton, Ontario. The extruded anodized aluminium cladding was fabricated by Josef Gartner in Germany: the only company in the world that can produce the material. The company also provided the titanium cladding for Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.[25]

The overall aim of The Crystal is to provide openness and accessibility, seeking to blur the lines between the threshold linking the public area of the street and the more private area of the museum. The goal is to act as an open threshold where people and artifacts animate the space. The main lobby is a three-story high atrium, named the Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court.[31] The lobby is overlooked by balconies and flanked by the J.P. Driscoll Family Stair of Wonders and the Spirit House, an interstitial space formed by the intersection of the east and west crystals that is intended as a space of emotional and physical diversion.[32]

On 1 June 2007, the Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, attended the Architectural Opening of the "Michael Lee-Chin Crystal".[33] This caused controversy because public opinion had been divided concerning the merits of its angular design. On its opening, Globe and Mail architecture critic Lisa Rochon complained that "the new ROM rages at the world," was oppressive, angsty, and hellish, while others (perhaps championed by the architecture critic at the competing Toronto Star, Christopher Hume) hailed it as a monument.[34] Some critics have gone as far as ranking it as one of the ten ugliest buildings in the world.[35] The project also experienced budget and construction time over-runs,[36] and drew comparisons to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao for using so-called "starchitecture" to attract tourism.[37]

In October 2007, the Lee-Chin Crystal was reported to have suffered from water leakage causing concerns due to the building's resilience to weather, especially in the face of the new structure's proximate first winter.[38] Although a two-layer cladding system was incorporated into the design of the Crystal to prevent the formation of dangerous snow loads on the structure, past architectural creations of Daniel Libeskind, (including the Denver Art Museum) have suffered from weather-related complications.[39][40]

Installation of the permanent galleries of the Lee-Chin Crystal began mid-June 2007, after a ten-day period when all the empty gallery spaces were open to the public.[41] Within The Crystal, there is a gift shop, C5 restaurant lounge, a cafeteria, seven additional galleries and Canada’s largest temporary exhibition hall. The galleries added to the Crystal gave different aspects to the ROM: fascinating visuals, architectural artifacts and environment, art, correspondence between object and space, and stories within the visuals.[42] The C5 restaurant Lounge is an award-winning designs firm lI BY IV Design Associated Inc.[43]


Originally, there were five major galleries at the ROM, one each for the fields of archaeology, geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology.[44] In general, the museum pieces were labelled and arranged in a static fashion that had changed little since Edwardian times. For example, the insects’ exhibit that lasted up until the 1970s, housed a variety of specimens from different parts of the world in long rows of glass cases. Insects of the same genus were pinned to the inside of the cabinet, with only the species name and location found as a description.

By the 1960s, more interpretive displays were ushered in, among the first being the original dinosaur gallery, established in the mid-1960s. Dinosaur fossils were now staged in dynamic poses against backdrop paintings and models of contemporaneous landscapes and vegetation. The displays became more descriptive and interpretive, sometimes, as with the extinction of the woolly mammoth, offering several different leading theories on the issue for the visitor to ponder. This trend continued, and up until the present time the galleries became less staid, and more dynamic or descriptive and interpretive. This trend arguably came to a culmination in the 1980s with the opening of The Bat Cave, where a sound system, strobe lights and gentle puffs of air attempts to recreate the experience of walking through a cave as a colony of bats fly out.

The original galleries were simply named after their subject material, but in more recent years, individual galleries have been named in honour of sponsors who have donated significant funds or collections to the institution. There are now two main categories of galleries present in the ROM: the Natural History Galleries and the World Culture Galleries.

Natural History galleries

The exhibit in 2008, in the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal gallery.

The Natural History galleries are all gathered on the second floor of the museum. The gallery contains collections and samples of various animals such as bats, birds, and dinosaur bones and skeletons.

The Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity, designed by Reich+Petch and opened in late 2009, features

  • Official website
  • Royal Ontario Museum at Emporis

External links

  1. ^ "FAQs" (PDF). Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Dickson, Lovat (1986). The Museum Makers: the Story of the Royal Ontario Museum. University of Toronto Press.  
  3. ^ Jamie, Bradburn. "Historicist: A Handbook to the Royal Ontario Museum, 1956". Torontoist. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Collections and Research". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Royal Ontario Museum Burgess Shale Expeditions (1975-ongoing)". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  6. ^ a b The Royal Ontario Museum Act, S.O. 1912, c. 80
  7. ^ a b Siddiqui, Norman. "Our History". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "History of the Royal Ontario Museum" (PDF). Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  9. ^ For the history of the archaeological and ethnographic collection of the Normal School, later given to the ROM, see Gerald Killan, David Boyle: From Artisan to Archaeologist, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1983 and Michelle A Hamilton, Collections and Objections: Aboriginal Material Culture in Southern Ontario, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Our History". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  11. ^ The Royal Ontario Museum Act, 1947, S.O. 1947, c. 96
  12. ^ The Royal Ontario Museum Act, 1968, S.O. 1968, c. 119
  13. ^ a b "ROM History" (PDF). Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  14. ^ O’Brien, Chrissie (19 February 2009). "Royal Ontario Museum agrees to sell McLaughlin Planetarium site to University of Toronto". Daily Commercial News. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "FAQs". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  16. ^ Royal Ontario Museum Review Archived 4 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Petersen, Klaus & Allan C. Hutchinson. "Interpreting Censorship in Canada", University of Toronto Press, 1999.
  18. ^ "Renaissance ROM". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "Renaissance ROM Fact Sheet" (PDF). Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  20. ^ Lostracco, Marc. "Inside The ROM Crystal: A First Look". Torontoist. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "Michael Lee-Chin Crystal Facts" (PDF). Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  22. ^ Royal Ontario Museum | About Us | Our History Archived 29 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "The Museum: Past, Present and Future, by Dr. James E. Cruise". Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  24. ^ Heritage of the ROM, accessed 10 November 2005 Archived 6 April 2004 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ a b "Canadian Embassy Beijing: New Rom rising". Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  26. ^ ROM Members' News, Winter 2005–6.
  27. ^ Browne, Kelvin. Bold Visions: the Architecture of the Royal Ontario Museum. Toronto: ROM, 2008.
  28. ^ "Royal Ontario Museum’s News Release". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  29. ^ "Royal Ontario Museum". Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  30. ^ Libeskin, Daniel. "Prominent Poles". 
  31. ^ "Exhibition Spaces". 
  32. ^ Royal Ontario Museum: Thorsell Spirit House
  33. ^ëlle_Jean
  34. ^ 'Toronto Star'': Inside the ROM crystal; 1 June 2007"'". 1 June 2007. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  35. ^ "ROM's Crystal makes list of world's ugliest buildings". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 23 August 2012. 
  36. ^ Readers (5 May 2007). "Crystal vision blurry".  
  37. ^ Joey Slinger (3 May 2007). "It's okay to think it's ugly".  
  38. ^ : Leaks, woes a smudge on Crystal's sparkle; 3 October 2007Globe and Mail
  39. ^ : A Crystal with its fair share of wrinkles; 18 May 2007Globe and Mail Archived 18 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ 'Architectural Record'': Repairs at Denver Art Museum Set to Begin; 11 April 2007"'". Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  41. ^ "News | Royal Ontario Museum". Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  42. ^ "Dawn of the Crystal Age". 
  43. ^ "Dining". ROM. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  44. ^ "Guide Rating and Review: Large Museum Shops, accessed 10 November 2005". 12 July 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  45. ^ Canadian Interiors. "Reich + biodiversity + Petch", Canadian Interiors, 1 September 2009. Retrieved on 1 February 2013.
  46. ^ "Gallery of Birds". Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  47. ^ "The Bat Cave". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  48. ^ "The ROM reopens the bat cave, accessed 15 October 2013". 4 February 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  49. ^ "The Bat Cave is back, accessed 15 October 2013". 25 February 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  50. ^ "Bat Workshop:41st Annual North American Symposium on Bat Research, accessed 15 October 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  51. ^ Greenwood Davis, Heather. "Dinosaur found", Canadian Tourism Commission, Retrieved on 31 January 2013.
  52. ^ "Tech Suite of Galleries: Earth's Treasures". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  53. ^ "World Cultures". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  54. ^ "Federal Investment Creates New Permanent Galleries at the Royal Ontario Museum". Government of Canada. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  55. ^ "Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada: First Peoples". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  56. ^ "Iconic: Totem Poles (Video)", Royal Ontario Museum, 29 August 2012. Retrieved on 2 March 2013.
  57. ^ "Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  58. ^ "Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  59. ^ "Matthews Family Court of Chinese Sculpture". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  60. ^ "Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  61. ^ "ROM Gallery of Chinese Architecture". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  62. ^ Jackson, Matthew. "The Sarira Casket". Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  63. ^ "Prince Takamado Gallery of Japan". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  64. ^ "Eaton Gallery of Rome". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  65. ^ "Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Rome and the Near East". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  66. ^ "Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Byzantium". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  67. ^ "Galleries of Africa: Nubia". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  68. ^ "The A.G. Leventis Foundation Gallery of Ancient Cyprus". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  69. ^ "Gallery of the Bronze Age Aegean". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  70. ^ "Gallery of Greece". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  71. ^ "Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  72. ^ "Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  73. ^ "Iconic: Blue Lady (Video)", Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved on 18 February 2013.
  74. ^ "Wirth Gallery of the Middle East". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  75. ^ "Samuel European Galleries". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  76. ^ "Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  77. ^ "CIBC Discovery Gallery". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  78. ^ "Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  79. ^ "Toronto Arts Online". Toronto Arts Online. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  80. ^ Interview of William Thorsell, Director of the Royal Ontario Museum. The Globe and Mail.
  81. ^ Ignacio Villarreal. " – The First Art Newspaper". Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  82. ^ "Housepaint Blog". 13 December 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  83. ^ "BlogTO". BlogTO. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  84. ^ Hiroshi Sugimoto in The Globe and Mail
  85. ^ a b c "Accessibility". Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  86. ^ "Access Programs and Services". Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  87. ^ "Community Partner Profiles" (PDF). Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  88. ^ "2001 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 

Galleries of the Royal Ontario Museum: Ancient Egypt and Nubia. 1994. Roberta L. Shaw and Krzysztof Grzymski. Royal Ontario Museum. ISBN 0-88854-411-1.


  • (a minor WikiProject dedicated to improving articles pertaining to the ROM)

See also

In the novel Bugs Potter Live at Nickaninny by Canadian children's author Gordon Korman, one of the primary characters searching for the lost Naka-mee-chee (fictional) tribe was from the ROM.

The novel Calculating God by Canadian science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer is mainly set in the ROM. The novel received nominations for both the Hugo and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards in 2001.[88]

In fiction

Partners include United Way Toronto, Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, The Hospital for Sick Children, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.[87]

ROMCAN tries to eliminate barriers that might stand between these communities and the museum. Since 2008, ROMCAN developed into a larger community initiative that seeks to enable learning experiences for visitors and organizations. A main goal of the program is to give the museum the power to engage, share and inspire a greater diversity of visitors by trying to break through economic and social barriers.[85]

In 2008, ROMCAN was created to make the ROM more accessible to a variety of communities. ROMCAN provides free general admission tickets to participating community and charitable organizations. Each year, thousands of general admission tickets are distributed to these communities.[85]

Royal Ontario Museum Community Access Network (ROMCAN)

  • Tactile tours that allow visitors to explore objects through touch
  • An Audio Description Program that provides descriptive narration for people who are blind or have low vision
  • Tactile books featuring Braille, raised line graphics, large print and colour pictures
  • Large-print guides
  • Hands-on galleries
  • Gallery interpreters that provide visitors with active exploration activities
  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and tours
  • ASL video podcasts
  • Museum interactive touch screens
  • A hearing loop system
  • Assistive communication technology (Ubi-Duo), which allows real time communication between a deaf visitor and staff members

The ROM strives to recognize the diversity of visitor abilities and needs, and offers programs and services to ensure accessibility for all.[86] These include:

Accessibility services

The ROM provides access for a wide range of communities.[85]


The Roloff Beny Gallery of the Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) hosts the Royal Ontario Museum's contemporary art exhibitions.[79] This high-ceilinged multimedia gallery of approximately 6,000 sq ft (600 m2) serves as the ICC's main exhibition space and the ROM's window on contemporary society, connecting the ROM's vast natural history and world cultures collection to contemporary art and events.[80] The gallery has featured exhibitions on fashion photography,[81] street art,[82] modern Chinese urban design and architecture,[83] and contemporary Japanese art.[84]

Institute for Contemporary Culture gallery

The Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-On Biodiversity introduces visitors to the complicated relationships which occur among all living things in a fun and interactive space. People of all ages can explore touchable specimens and interactive displays while gallery facilitators help visitors discover the living world around them. Mossy frogs, a touchable shark jaw, snake skin, and a replica fox's den are just some of the objects that connect visitors to the amazing diversity and interdependence of plants and animals.[78]

The CIBC Discovery Gallery was designed to be a kids' learning zone. It houses three main areas: In the Earth, Around the World, and Close to Home. The space is inspired by the ROM's collections and enables children to participate in interactive activities involving touchable artifacts and specimens, costumes, digging for dinosaur bones, and examining fossils and meteorites. There is also a special area for pre-schoolers.[77]

Hands-on galleries

Other world culture galleries include the Herman Herzog Levy Gallery and the Samuel Hall-Currelly Gallery.

The Patricia Harris Gallery of Costumes and Textiles holds about 200 artifacts from the ROM's textile and costume collections. These pieces, which range from the 1st century BC to the present day, are rotated frequently due to their fragility. Throughout time, textiles and fashion have been used to establish identity and allow inferences to be drawn about a culture's social customs, economy, and survival. The gallery is devoted to showcasing transformations in textile design, manufacturing, and cultural relevance throughout the ages. Weaving, needlework, printed archaeological textiles, and silks are all located in this space.[76]

Costumes and textiles

16th Century Mother Mary holding Baby Jesus from the Samuel European Galleries

The Samuel European Galleries have over 4,600 objects that chronicle the development of decorative and other arts in Europe from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The period rooms depict the development of decorative arts in Central and Western Europe by showcasing changes in style during the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical and Victorian periods. Other specialized collections relating to Culture and Context, Judaica, Art Deco and Arms and Armour are also displayed.[75]


The Wirth Gallery of the Middle East explores civilizations from the Palaeolithic Age to 1900 AD found within the Fertile Crescent, which stretches from the Eastern Mediterranean and Persia (Iran) and Iraq to the Arabian Peninsula. The over 1,000 artifacts relate to the writing, technology, spirituality, every day life, and warfare of the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians, and Assyrians. These civilizations made huge advances in writing, mathematics, law, medicine and religion which are represented throughout the gallery.[74]

Relief sculpture with Persian Imperial Guardsman (5th century BC) at Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Middle Eastern

The Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery holds a diverse collection of objects such as decorative art, armour and sculptures that represents the culture of South Asia. The gallery has approximately 350 objects that represent over 5,000 years of history. Due to the wide range of history and cultures on display, the gallery is split into numerous different sections. These are: the Material Remains, Imagining the Buddha, Visualizing Divinity, Passage to Enlightenment, Courtly Culture, Cultural Exchange, Home and the World.[72] In this gallery, visitors can find one of the ROM's Iconic Objects, the (Untitled) Blue Lady by Navjot Altaf, listed as one of the museum's "must see" objects.[73]

The Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific features a collection of 1,400 artifacts that reflect the artistic and cultural traditions of the indigenous peoples from four different geographical areas: Africa, the American continents, the Asia-Pacific region and Oceania. On display are objects such as ceremonial masks, ceramics, and even a shrunken head.[71]

Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and South Asian

The Gallery of Greece has a collection of 1,500 artifacts that span the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. This time span witnessed the bit of Western art. The collection consists of items such as sculptures of deities, armour, and a coin collection.[70]

The Gallery of the Bronze Age Aegean features over 100 objects that include examples from the Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean and Geometric periods of Ancient Greece. The collection ranges in age from 3200 – 700 BC and contains a variety of objects that include a marble head of a female figure and a glass necklace.[69]

The Gallery of Africa: Egypt focuses on the life (and the afterlife) of Ancient Egyptians. It includes a wide range of artifacts, ranging from agricultural implements, jewelry, cosmetics, funerary furnishings and more. The exhibit includes a number of mummy cases, including the fine gilded and painted coffin of Djedmaatesankh, who was a female musician at the temple of Amun-Re in Thebes, and the mummy of Antjau, who is thought to have been a wealthy landowner. In this gallery, one of the ROM's Iconic Objects, the Bust of Cleopatra, can be found. It is one of only two in existence and is listed as one of the museum's "must see" objects.

The A.G. Leventis Foundation Gallery of Ancient Cyprus houses roughly 300 artifacts, focusing on the art created in Cyprus between 2200–30 BC. The gallery is divided into five sections: Cyprus and Commerce, Ancient Cypriot Pottery Types, Sculptures, Ancient Cyprus at a Glance, and Art & Society: Interpretations. The collection includes a reconstructed open-air sanctuary and a rare bronze relief statue of a man carrying a large copper ingot.[68]

The Galleries of Africa: Nubia feature a collection of objects that explore the once flourishing civilization of Nubia. The Nubians were the first urban literary society in Africa south of the Sahara and were Egypt's main rival.[67]

The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Byzantium covers the history of the Byzantine Empire from 330 to 1453 AD, during which crucial changes took place in early eastern Christianity. There are over 230 artifacts that relate to the dedication of Constantinople, the fall of the Roman Empire, the Medieval Crusades, and the conquest by the Ottoman Turks. Items such as jewelry, glass work, coins help to illustrate the vast history of modern-day Istanbul.[66]

The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Rome and the Near East depicts the lifestyle and culture of societies under Roman rule and their influence in the Near East.[65]

The Eaton Gallery of Rome is home to a 1000 years of ancient Roman culture. It has the largest collection of classical antiquities in Canada, displaying more than 500 objects that range from marble or painted portraits of historical figures to magnificent Roman jewellery. The gallery also features the Bratty Exhibit of Etruria that sheds some light on the Etruscans, a neighbouring civilization.[64]

Visitors looking at a mummy.
An exhibit of Cyprus pottery at the ROM


The Prince Takamado Gallery of Japan contains the largest collection of Japanese artworks in Canada, featuring a rotating display of ukiyo-e prints, and the only tea master collection in North America. The gallery is split into a number of different sections, each home to the collection of objects that the name suggests: the Toyota Canada Inc. Exhibit of Ukiyo-e Pictures, the Sony Exhibit of Painting, the Canon Canada Inc. Samurai Exhibit, the Mitsui & Co. Canada Tea Ceremony Exhibit, the Maple Leaf Foods Exhibit of Lacquers, and the Linamar Corporation Exhibit of Ceramics. The gallery is named in honour of the late Japanese Prince Takamado, who spent several years at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.[63]

The Gallery of Korea is the only gallery of Korean art in Canada. With approximately 260 objects and artifacts, the gallery brings to life Korean and culture. Furniture, ceramics, metalwork, printing technology, painting and decorative arts, dating from the 3rd to 20th centuries AD, illustrate the many accomplishments to Korean culture. Buddhism being a large part of the Korean culture was introduced to them through China and took hold on the general population. The influence of Buddhism on the Korean culture is portrayed with two statues. The first being a Sarira casket which originated in India, and were made to enshrine the remains of a Buddha or enlightened masters.[62] The other statue is of a tomb guardian.

The ROM Gallery of Chinese Architecture houses one of the largest collection of Chinese architectural artifacts outside of China and is the first gallery of Chinese architecture in North America. The gallery holds some spectacular exhibits such as a reconstruction of an Imperial Palace building from Beijing's Forbidden City and a Ming-era tomb complex.[61]

The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China consists of approximately 2,500 objects spanning almost 7,000 years of Chinese history. The gallery is divided into five sections: the T.T. Tsui Exhibit of Prehistory and Bronze Age; the Qin and Han Dynasties; the Michael C.K. Lo Exhibition of North, South, Sui and Tang; the Song, Yuan and Frontier Dynasties; and the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Each section focuses on a different period of Chinese history, displaying objects ranging from jade discs to pieces of furniture.[60]

The Matthews Family Court of Chinese Sculpture has a wide variety of sculptures that span 2,000 years of Chinese sculptural art. It also displays a number of smaller objects that explore the development of religions in China from the 3rd to 19th centuries AD.[59]

The Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art gallery contains three of the world's best-preserved temple wall paintings from the Yuan dynasty (AD 1271–1386) and a number of wooden sculptures depicting various bodhisattvas from the 12th to 15th centuries.[58] It also has one of the Yixian glazed pottery luohans, c. 1000.

The Chinese Galleries comprise four sections: the Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art, the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China, the Matthews Family Court of Chinese Sculpture, and the ROM Gallery of Chinese Architecture.

Chinese painting on silk from 19th century. Chinese galley.
A Qur'an manuscript from 17th century written in China by ink on paper. Chinese galley.
Chinese sculptures and paintings, Chinese gallery

East Asian

Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada is located on the Weston Family Wing, the Sigmund Samuel gallery displays collections of early Canadian memorabilia. The majority of the collection is historical decorative and pictorial arts, but also includes a number of historical artifacts among other things. The gallery has approximately 560 artifacts on display and covers the period from early European settlement to the beginning of the modern industrial era. The displays are split up into sections to display the strength and weaknesses of the collections and strongly reflect the French and British cultural heritage of Canada.[57]

The Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada: First Peoples provides a look inside the culture of Canada's earliest societies: the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. The gallery contains more than 1,000 artifacts that help to reveal the economic and social forces that have influenced Native art. There is also a rotating display of contemporary Native art, an area dedicated to the works of pioneer artist Paul Kane, and a theatre devoted to traditional storytelling.[55] Just outside of this gallery, the central staircase winds around the Nisga'a and Haida Crest Poles of the Royal Ontario Museum, one of the museum's iconic objects.[56]

PM Stephen Harper appearing at a gala to celebrate discover of the HMS Erebus, one of two ships wrecked during John Franklin's lost expedition at the Royal Ontario Museum


The World Culture galleries display a wide variety of objects from around the world. These range from Stone Age implements from China and Africa to 20th-century art and design.[53] In July 2011, the museum added to this collection when a number of new permanent galleries were unveiled. Both the Government of Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum committed $2.75 million toward the project.[54] The galleries are located on the first, third and fourth levels of the museum.

A toy vehicle exhibit on the ROM stairs from the 3rd floor to the 4th floor
Palmyra Tombstone of Akmath, from the 2nd century AD

World Culture galleries

The Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth's Treasures features almost 3,000 specimens of minerals, gems, meteorites and rocks ranging from 4.5 billion years ago to the present. These items were found in many different locations including the earth, moon and beyond, and represent the world's dynamic geological environment.[52] Two of the ROM's iconic objects, the Light of the Desert gem and the Tagish Lake meteorite, are located within this vast collection.

Earth and space

The James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs and Gallery of the Age of Mammals feature many examples of complete dinosaur skeletons, as well as those of early birds, reptiles, mammals, and marine animals, ranging from the Jurassic to Cretaceous periods. The highlight of the exhibit is "Gordo", a recently rediscovered Barosaurus skeleton, that is the largest dinosaur on display in Canada.[51]

Specimens on display along a stairway

The Reed Gallery of the Age of Mammals explores the rise of mammals through the Cenozoic Era that followed the extinction of the dinosaurs. There are over 400 specimens from North America and South America on display. Also included in the gallery are, 30 fossil skeletons of extinct mammals, over 160 non-mammalian specimens, and hundreds of fossil plants, insects, fish, and turtles. The gallery's entrance begins with mammals that arose shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs. A highlight of this gallery is the sabre-toothed nimravid Dinictis.

Fossils and evolution

The Bat Cave is an immersive experience for visitors that presents over 20 bats and 800 models in a recreated habitat, with accompanying educational panels and video.[47] Originally opened in 1988, the bat cave was reopened on 27 February 2010 after extensive renovations.[48] The 1,700-square-foot exhibit most notably includes a recreation of St. Clair Cave located in central Jamaica. The original cave was formed by an underground river that flowed 30 meters below ground through the limestone and was three kilometers long. This cave was then recreated in the museum based on ROM fieldwork conducted in Jamaica in 1984.[49] A large amount of bat research has been conducted with support from the ROM. In 2011, the ROM hosted a "bat workshop" connected with the 41st Annual North American Symposium on Bat Research.[50]

The Gallery of Birds has on display many bird specimens from past centuries. The Gallery of Birds is dominated by the broad “Birds in flight” display where stuffed birds are enclosed in a glass display for visitors to experience. Dioramas allow visitors to learn about the many bird species and how environmental and habitual changes have put bird species in danger of extinction. Pull-out drawers let you examine eggs, feathers, footprints and nests more closely.[46] The gallery included exhibits of other extinct species such as, the Passenger Pigeon. These exhibits were later moved to the Schad Gallery.

, is a part of the gallery that features one of the most endangered and diverse habitats in Ontario. The display features examples of the regions and the efforts by the Ontario ministry of Natural Resources, to maintain and restore the tall grass prairies and savannas. Tallgrass Prairies and Savannas The [45]

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