Considered among the world’s leading museums of natural history and world cultures, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is Canada’s largest museum, attracting over a million visitors a year.
The 2007 Michael Lee-Chin Crystal was the latest of more than a half dozen additions to the original museum which opened more than one hundred years ago in 1914.
While providing additional gallery space and a lobby, the appearance of the Crystal has been controversial, described by some as oppressive and hellish, while others have declared it a monument. In any case, it certainly attracts attention from the casual passerby. In fact, we stopped in the building just to peak inside the day before our visit.
Of course some of the controversy may come from the sharp contrast of the domed mosaic ceiling in the museum’s ceremonial entrance hall, considered by many to be one of the ROM’s most impressive architectural jewels.
Needless to say with over forty galleries, our four hour visit barely scratched the surface of the ROM’s collection. We spent most of our time in the First People’s Gallery and the Gallery of Canada where four impressive crest poles border the entrances. Considered “must see” pieces in the museum, the largest of the poles extends 80 feet and dates back to the late 1800s.
Among the large collection of artifacts, those from Crazy Horse captured my attention. And I also spent a good part of our visit examining the Native shoes and clothing.
After our trip to Niagara Falls only three days earlier, I enjoyed the artwork in the Gallery of Canada depicting the falls in days gone by, especially the one that pictures the boat exploring the falls. I guess some things don’t change.
Naturally you’d expect to see a beaver pelt in this gallery, but I also enjoyed the Norman Rockwell-like posters and magazine covers of artist Rex Woods portraying middle-class Canadian life. And being election season, I found myself drawn to the political cartoons of Sam Hunter. Something else that hasn’t changed.
For all the children at the museum, as well as the young at heart, the dinosaur exhibit caused the expected excitement as did the bat cave. However, our interests were primarily on the cultural exhibits.
While they can’t be classified as an exhibit, there was absolutely no way we could pass up going into and taking pictures in the All Gender Washrooms. Just had to see what they looked like.
Actually, they’re not so different from any other public restroom other than the urinals being covered with plastic to make them off limits to users. The gender neutral washrooms have been opened less than a month and in fact were inspired by a new Royal Ontario Museum exhibit exploring gender and sexual diversity in ancient Japan.
John and I joined one tour led by a museum docent, but because of the size of the group it was difficult to hear and understand the soft spoken guide so we abandoned the group and meandered on our own. Meghan and Jon linked up with a smaller group and said the tour of the Gallery of Rome was first rate. A reminder to always check the the tour schedules to get the most out of the experience.
- Location – 100 Queens Park, Toronto
- Museum Hours – Daily 10:00-5:30; extended hours Friday 10:00-8:30
- General Admission – Adults $17.00 (Canadian; currently about $13 US) with additional charge for special exhibitions
- Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art. Exhibition through September 5th
- Coming soon: CHIHULY June 25, 2016-January 2, 2017
- Check the schedule of tours and take advantage of the knowledge of docents.
- Spend a couple of hours or the whole day.
***On the day we visited the ROM there were numerous student groups from pre-schoolers to University of Toronto students accompanied by professors. Apparently, John and I still look like teachers because both of us were asked if we were teachers by museum staff hoping that we’d step in and control rambunctious youngsters.