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World Culture and Natural History, Nearly a Century Museum - The Royal Ontario Museum

By OGP Reporters / Members Contribute File Photos

Oh Good Party

The ROM is a universal museum of cultures. There are few universal museums of culture left in the world today. Most museums specialize in a few cultures, in particular places and times. The British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the ROM retain their universal character, a reflection of 19th-century ideals that saw museums as encyclopaedias intended to expose local populations to the entire world.

Nearly a century in age now, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is one of the largest museums in North America, the largest in Canada. It's the pride of Toronto, Canada, with an impeccable collection of art, culture and natural history, and one of the best-known of Canada’s museums internationally.

Established on 16 April 1912 and opened on 19 March 1914, 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.

The ROM is a significant museum of natural history with one of the collections in natural history rank among the finest in the world, from minerals to the fossil record of early life to dinosaurs, early mammals and the world of biodiversity and life at risk. It contains collections and specimens of various animals, such as endangered and rare species. The houses is the world's largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale with more than 150,000 specimens. The museum also contains notable collections of various minerals and meteorites. As well as art from the near Eastern and African art, Art of East Asia, European art, and Canadian history and culture. It has exquisite Chinese architecture, Buddhist temples and sculptures, as well as Japanese armor, lacquerware and other ancient traditional arts, as well as an extensive collection of design and fine arts, including clothing, interior, and product design, especially Art Deco.

Explore the highlights of ROM’s collections across these the best of galleries.

1. Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth's Treasures

This is amazing and a real treasure! Close to 3,000 exceptional specimens of minerals, gems, meteorites and rocks represent a collection among the finest in North America. Treasures from Earth and space unfold in a suite of galleries designed for exploration and discovery. Meteorites, rocks, precious minerals and gems contribute to one of the finest museum collections on display anywhere. In total, over 4.5 billion years of history are represented in the gallery, and reflect the dynamic geological environment in which people live.

2. Chinese Architecture Houses

Gallery contains approximately 200 artifacts, including roof tiles, architectural features and embellishments, statuary and tomb-related objects. 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.

3. Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity

Interactive multimedia and thousands of spectacular specimens create a special experience for visitors of all ages. The gallery explores our world's biodiversity through three core themes: Life is Diverse, Life is Interconnected, and Life is at Risk. The Schad Gallery is our space to explore and display life on planet earth: life in the recent past, now and in the future. Our extensive natural history collections – from “Bull” the Southern White Rhino to our live coral reef – make this a vibrant and awe inspiring place. Humans are part of every story; we are part of nature, and have had a profound impact on all other life. We challenge you to live sustainably with nature.

4. Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art

A favourite with us, this gallery is home to one of the world's most important collections of Chinese temple art. Some of the first acquisitions made by the Museum are housed here, including the murals – three of the world's best-preserved – and fourteen large, breathtaking Buddhist and Daoist sculptures from Shanxi province in north China. Gallery features include three 13th – 14th century temple murals and large wooden sculptures that date from the 12th to 15th century. The gallery is named in honour of William Charles White (1873-1960), the first curator of the ROM's Chinese collections, who had been the first Anglican Bishop of Henan province. One of four galleries featuring Chinese art and archaeology. Murals date from the Yuan dynasty (AD1271 – 1368), and the sculptures from the 12th to 15th century.

5. Eaton Gallery of Rome

Over 500 artifacts highlight aspects of daily Roman life, the contrasting tastes throughout the vast Empire, and the Roman influence on diverse local cultures. In this gallery ancient Rome is brought to life through the largest collection of Roman artifacts in Canada. The thematic display takes you on a journey spanning over 1000 years of history through Republican and Imperial Rome and encompassing a vast geographic area from Britain to Egypt. The gallery also includes the Bratty Exhibit of Etruria, which throws light on the culture of the Etruscans, Rome’s enigmatic Italian neighbours.

It's worth mentioning that most are: Every object has a story.

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; 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; 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.

Moreover, behold the world of early Canada told through the lens of the rich decorative and pictorial arts produced by the early settlers from France and Great Britain. Continue the story of Canada's cultural heritage with a growing contemporary collection reflecting the cultures of successive generations of immigrants.

The chair of the Royal Ontario Museum Mr. Salvatore Badali said, "The ROM is a universal museum of cultures. There are few universal museums of culture left in the world today. Most museums specialize in a few cultures, in particular places and times. The British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the ROM retain their universal character, a reflection of 19th-century ideals that saw museums as encyclopaedias intended to expose local populations to the entire world."

Canada is described as a "full democracy", with a tradition of liberalism, and an egalitarian, moderate political ideology. An emphasis on social justice has been a distinguishing element of Canada's political culture. Peace, order, and good government, alongside an Implied Bill of Rights, are founding principles of the Canadian government. The nature of universal culture is very important here because Canada’s population reflects so many different cultures and places.The official state policy of multiculturalism is often cited as one of Canada's significant accomplishments, and a key distinguishing element of Canadian identity.

With a carousel of new exhibits all the time, spanning a wide range of topics like Kent Monkman’s own interpretation of the ROM’s collection, rare wildlife photography, Canada’s Atlantic whales and Ethiopian artist Elias Slime’s artwork, to name a few.

The ROM also offers a wide range of digital exhibits that visitors can experience long after they’ve left the museum. Online exhibitions include the Blue Whale Project’s bittersweet story, an exploration of the Burgess Shale, and an in-depth look at the silks of highland Madagascar.

Along with fresh new exhibits, the ROM’s permanent collection includes around one million cultural objects gathered from around the world. With artifacts dating back to a range of time periods, from prehistoric civilization to present-day, visitors can explore the artwork, archaeology, fashion, and decor of ancient Asian, European, Greek, Roman, African, and Indigenous Canadian societies.

Art, culture and nature are intimately related rather than separate realms. The universal museum of cultures married to a major museum of natural history creates a rare institution of enormous breadth and authority in the world. Today, the museum is Canada's largest field-research institution, with research and conservation activities that span the globe.


1. New gallery now open -- An artist's illustration of an ancient sea scape teeming with life -- Willner Madge Gallery, Dawn of Life. Bringing the dawn of life to life.

2. Museum Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.

3. Admission to the Museum is limited and time ticketed. Tickets must be purchased online to book a time slot for your visit.


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