The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is a museum of art, world culture and natural history in Toronto, Ontario. The museum was founded on 16 April 1912 and opened on 19 March 1914. There are six million objects at the museum, and it has 40 galleries, contributing to its renown as an institution of global cultural importance. Museum exhibits include dinosaurs, minerals, meteorites, historical artifacts from Canada, Europe, and Africa, as well as works by artists from the Near East and East Asia.
The museum’s collections are organized into four main sections: Earth sciences, human history and cultures, art and nature. A number of notable exhibits include the world’s largest dinosaur fossil (a Hadrosaur) as well as “Dinosaurs Among Us,” a large-scale exhibit showcasing all 27 species of dinosaurs known to have roamed North America. The ROM contains other noteworthy attractions including European paintings from the Renaissance period; Canadian First Peoples’ history in “Voices Beyond Silence” and one of Canada’s biggest coin collections in the John H. McConnell display at Noorwegen Hall on Level One.”
Many people visit this museum because it is one of Toronto’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting more than one million visitors every year. The museum displays more than 100 fossils from the Burgess Shale, the world’s largest fossil collection.
Since its inception, the museum has maintained close ties with the University of Toronto, often serving as a repository for the University’s collections. Since its establishment in 1914, the museum has been under the control and management of the University of Toronto. However, in 1968, the University and the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology merged to form the Royal Ontario Museum of Archeology.
The museum’s collections include more than two million natural history specimens and artifacts, a large number of works on paper including watercolours, drawings, prints and illustrated books at 30 galleries in six major buildings. It also houses displays featuring Indigenous art from all regions of Canada.
Today, the museum is Canada’s largest museum and holds a collection that is the third-largest in North America.
In 2014, during the museum renovations to optimize its use as a destination for school groups by adding more interactive exhibits, they made significant changes to their rotational exhibitions programming: “Introducing new galleries focused on biodiversity.”
This included two new permanent gallery spaces for showcasing contemporary Indigenous art from across Canada-“the first major institution devoted exclusively to showing Canadian Aboriginal arts within an exhibition space created for them”–and multicultural art of the Asia-Pacific region; four temporary exhibit halls were also added. The result was a newly designed layout that integrates these newer galleries into one seamless flow.
The Royal Ontario Museum has been a Toronto institution for over 100 years. With the renovations to its dinosaur galleries in 2018, they have shown that their “vision is not only about what’s inside-it’s also about our place on earth and how we share it with others.” The museum now provides an immersive experience of both past and present life forms all around us.
The original building (now the western wing) was designed by Toronto architects Frank Darling and John A. Pearson with a synthesis of Italianate and Neo-Romanesque elements. The structure is heavily massed and characterized by arched windows with rounded and segmented segments as well as heavy hood moulding. A further feature is decorative brackets applied to the eaves, quoins, and cornices.
Alfred H. Chapman and James Oxley designed the eastern wing facing Queen’s Park. The art deco-style rotunda and a contemporary entrance were all part of the new museum building when it opened in 1933. A linking wing and the rear (west) facade of the Queen’s Park wing were originally built of yellow brick, with some minor details of Italianate design. The facade of Queen’s Park of the expansion stands out in stark contrast to the heavy Italianate architecture of the original.
More: Art Gallery of Ontario