The Royal Ontario Museum, located in Toronto, is Canada’s largest and one of North America’s largest museums. The ROM, for short, displays art, culture, and science from all over the world and from all throughout history. The museum is located in the University of Toronto district, with its main entrance on Bloor Street W. Home to over six million artifacts and forty exhibits and galleries, the ROM is the perfect place to spend a day exploring the museum’s four levels. In this post, I am going to be guiding you throughout the Royal Ontario museum, from the museum’s chilling Evidence Room to its impressive dinosaur collection.
Let’s start with a bit of the ROM’s history… It was established on April 16th, 1912, opened on March 19th, 1914, and its original architectural style is Italianate Neo-Romanesque. The ROM recently underwent a major renovation called the Renaissance ROM, beginning in 2002 and ending in 2007. Its focus was the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the huge crystal plunging out of the original building (shown above).
Tickets to the ROM are $20CAD for adults (20-64), $17CAD for seniors (65+), $15.50CAD for youth (15-19) and students, $14CAD for Children (4-14), and free for infants (0-3) and indigenous people. Membership to the ROM, which I would definitely suggest looking into if you live in the area, is $112CAD/year or $187/2 years for adults (click ‘membership’ for more info). The ROM is open from 10AM to 5:30 PM Saturday through Thursday, and is open until 8:30 PM on Fridays.
At the time of our visit, the ROM’s special exhibit was ‘Out of the Depths’, a exhibit about the world’s largest animal, a blue whale. In 2014, nine blue whales got trapped in ice and past away, a loss representing an astonishing 3% of the Northwest Atlantic’s blue whale population. Most of the time, when blue whales die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean. However, two of the nine blue whales that past away that day washed ashore Rocky Harbour and Trout River, Newfoundland and Labrador. Scientists at the ROM got the incredible chance to recover these animals bodies, and one of their 24 metre long skeletons is currently on display with this exhibit (shown above).
The ‘Out of the Depths’ exhibit retells the story of how the ROM acquired these blue whales, the journey that the whales went on to end up in this exhibit, and all about these animal’s anatomies. The world’s first and only blue whale heart, the largest heart in the world, is on display in this exhibit (right), along with a blue whale’s mouth (left). I didn’t believe that the heart was real at first, but I can assure you that it is!
The Blue Whale exhibit is not part of General Admission, yet it is only $10CAD extra for adults, $8CAD extra for seniors, and $5CAD extra for kids (more info here). The exhibit has been open since March 11th, 2017, and it will close on September 4th, 2017, to be replaced with ‘Vikings’. I would 100% suggest paying a little extra to visit one of the ROM’s special exhibits, because it really is a once in a lifetime experience to visit any of their exhibits. I remember seeing the ROM’s Terracotta army exhibit the first time I visited when I was little, which I will remember for the rest of my life!
On the ROM’s first level, which is mostly focused on world culture, you will find the largest collection of Chinese architectural artifacts outside of China! This gallery includes 200 artifacts, including things ranging from roof tiles to tomb related objects, all relating to the theme of Chinese architecture. The focal points of the gallery are the Ming Tomb (left), the Tombs of Han and Tang, and a corner of an Imperial Palace (right).
Another Chinese gallery on the first level is the ROM’s Gallery of Chinese Temple Art, dominated by the surrounding Paradise of Maitreya mural, created over seven centuries ago during China’s Yuan dynasty. The sculptures featured in this gallery date back to 12th and 15th century China, and they are from Northern China’s Shanxi province.
Named after Prince Takamado, a member of the Imperial House of Japan, who was nicknamed “Canada’s Prince”, the Prince Takamado Gallery of Japan explores Japanese culture with over 600 objets from the 1st to 20th century. Other galleries in this section of the museum include the Matthews Family Court of Chinese Sculpture, the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China, and the Gallery of Korea, all highlighting Eastern Asia’s culture.
Left of the museum’s entrance is the ROM’s Rotunda, a stunning mosaic dome made from venetian glass cut into over a million small coloured squares. The Rotunda is meant to reflect the museum’s collections with small illustrations of symbols of different cultures from all over the world. For example, there is a three-clawed dragon for China, a Mayan Temple for Central America, a Bison from a cave painting for aboriginals, and many more.
The Gallery of Canada is a gallery of Canadian culture and history, showing the influence of the English, French, and Aboriginals on Canadian culture. There over 1000 paintings and artifacts that date back to the 1600s, all about Early Canada and how it came to be what it is today.
Fixating on the culture of Canada’s first people, the Gallery of Canada: First Peoples tells the history of aboriginal Canadians, who are unfortunately very overlooked in the country today. The gallery reviews the engagement between indigenous people and Europeans, and the fears that Canada’s first people had when new settlers came to their land.
The ROM’s second level is mostly made up of Hands-On and Natural History museums, one of them being Life in Crisis: Gallery of Biodiversity, the perfect place to explore all the different types of life on Earth. The gallery is based around three themes: Life is Diverse, Life is Interconnected, and Life is at Risk. Many specimens are featured in this gallery, from places like the Amazon to the Arctic , and even some extinct specimens, like a great auk and passenger pigeon. Hands-On Biodiversityand the Discovery Gallery are both nearby interactive exhibits for kids (and adults!), all about plants and animals, and the Bat Cave and Gallery of Birds are two other exhibits that revolve around science and life.
Earth’s Treasures is a gallery made up of over 3000 meteorites, rocks, gems, and minerals, from both earth and space, covering over 4.5 billion years of history. It may not sound that interesting, but I found it a lot of fun to look at all of the beautifully coloured and shaped gems.
One of the ROM’s most treasured galleries is its Age Of Dinosaurs Gallery, one of the world’s best dinosaur collections. This gallery is also based around three themes: Life on Land, Life on Sea, and Life in the Air. The collection is primarily made up of North American artifacts, from the Jurassic period (200-145 million years ago) to the Cretaceous period (145-65 million years ago). Many of the most well known dinosaurs in history can be found in the gallery, including the Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex, and the Triceratops.
On the ROM’s third level, you will find solely world culture galleries and exhibits, one being the Gallery of Byzantium. This gallery is full of artifacts from the Byzantium empire, aka the place where the famous Orthodox Church was founded. The capital of the Byzantium empire, Constaninople, is now known as Istanbul, and it is the capital of Turkey.
The Gallery of Rome recognizes the incredible legacy of Rome, a city that has affected the way we live our life today in many ways you may not know going into the gallery, but will learn while exploring it! Canada’s largest collection of Roman artifacts (this gallery!) spans 1000 years of Roman history, from 900 BC to almost 500 AD.
Being the birthplace of Western culture, Greece has a very long story to be told, which you will find through the ROM’s Gallery of Greece. This gallery tells the story of Greece’s development, through the Archaic and Hellenistic periods, all the way until the Romans conquered the Greeks. Other galleries in this section include Galleries of Africa: Nubia, Gallery of the Bronze Age Aegean, and A.G. Leventis Foundation Gallery of Ancient Cyprus.
The Galleries of Africa: Egypt gallery takes you through the history of Ancient Egyptian civilization, covering over 5000 years of history. This is by far one of the ROM’s most impressive collections, being made up of 25,000 artifacts in total, with 2000 on display. Shown above is the skeleton, liver, brain, and heart of an Egyptian named Nahkt, a 14 year old egyptian weaver who died 3000 years ago.
There is even an open casket mummy on display at the ROM, who I found out was named Antjau and was the son of people named Tjesnitperet and Ankhhor. I remember being too scared to look at this mummy back when I first visited the ROM when I was only six years old, so I was pretty proud to have been able to actually look at the mummy this time!
Following the evolution of European style through the centuries, the ROM’s European Galleries allow you to discover the history behind Europe’s current and past fashion for yourself. This huge gallery spans through the Renaissance period, Baroque period, Rococo period, Neoclassical period, and finally, the Victorian period.
Inside the European galleries is the mini Evidence Room exhibit, an examination of the architecture behind Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp built in Poland during World War 2 that was responsible for the deaths of over a million Jews. The room explores the blueprints, bills, notes, and more that contributed to the construction of Auschwitz, one of the severe architectural crimes in history.
The ROM’s South Asian Gallery focuses on the culture and history of South Asia, an area divided between different languages and religions, yet united through the same customs and rituals. The countries included in this gallery involve Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and many other South Asian nations. The nearby Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific represents the customs and culture of the indigenous people of Africa, North and South America, Oceania, and Asia.
The final gallery in the ROM is all about the cradle of civilization… the Middle East. This gallery follows the progress of writing, craftsmanship, and faith, that the Middle East helped create, from the Paleolithic age up until just over 100 years ago.
The ROM does have a fourth level, however unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to visit it. It is much smaller than the other levels though, and it only has 1 main gallery, so we didn’t miss too much.
That brings us to the end of my post about Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum. As you can most likely tell from the length of this post, I worked really hard on it, so I truly hope that you enjoyed reading it! I actually started school last week (very early, I know!), so I am getting a bit busier, but I will make sure to keep my blog a major priority in the weeks to come… which will bring a ton of exciting new blog posts!
Thank you for reading.