December, 2005

Trip to the Revamped R.O.M.

Erika took her mother and Vanessa for some Boxing Week clothes shopping, so I decided to take Annie along to the ROM to see the newly opened galleries there.

We got their early enough to beat the initial crowds, and Annie happily settled in to the kids activities on the second floor. Once she was happy having drawn several pictures, worn some kid-sized armour and gone into the Bat Cave a few times, I managed to persuade her to satisfy her Dad’s curiosity and explore the new galleries on the floor prior to heading out for lunch.

Seeing the light emerge through the stained-glass windows above the old east-facing entrance was impressive, and the replica old oaken doors are more in keeping than the misguidedly too-modern glass doors that formerly graced that entrance.

Could see that the Weston Hall adjacent to the coat check room was still being worked on, but the fact that there was natural light streaming in from previously covered-up windows was already a good sign for future development.

The equivalent space to the north, where the gift shops and the Druxy’s diner used to be is now devoted as a gallery space for the First Peoples. Didn’t get to see much as Annie’s patience was already being stretched, but noted that very few of the displays had anything by way of signage, and also saw a few empty display cases. Clearly things were not completely ready for the re-opening, and that there was still much work to be done.

We then headed over to the Samuel Hall/Currelly Gallery space, which basically sports many, many comfy seats. I realize that the general age of the museum’s patrons is getting older, but I can’t help but wonder how long it will take for somebody to re-convert this space to something more functional than for just sitting around and taking a much-needed pause between exhibits. Annie had fun playing with one of two large touch-screen displays detailing the history of the ROM, and I noted the two newly mounted dino skeletons on the south wall, surely a stop-gap measure for those disappointed at the continued absence of a dinosaur gallery, which is slated to re-open when the Michael Lee-Chin crystal structure is slated to open late next year. It was also nice to see the two murals dating to the mid-1940s on the east walls flanking the entrance arch had been uncovered. They match those that had been uncovered for the past several years on the west side, these newly uncovered ones depicting crusaders on horseback facing an opposing Saracen cavalry.

We then made our way into the first of the Asian galleries. Again, it is obvious that things were a little bit rushed prior to opening, as there were next to no explanatory text accompanying the objects on display, save for the large signs containing the gallery names that thank the people/firms that made the galleries possible in the first place. The new Chinese architecture gallery was impressive, with scatterings of architectural elements, a facsimile of a royal façade, and a tomb flanked by stone camels. The absence of any contextual signs lends itself to free-association as to why particular artifacts are displayed together. A situation not likely to last long, I am sure, so I took a few pics of some of the architectural elements in one of the display cabinets.

Annie’s patience was being sorely tested by this point, but I managed to dash through some of the other Asian galleries quickly, enough to get a sense as to where things are and where to head next visit.

It was a dull, grey day when we got back outside, but I managed to take a couple more shots, once of the old planetarium building, which I posted to the McLaughlin Planetarium page on Wikipedia, and one of the newly uncovered façade for the east entrance, which I also posted to Wikipedia under the page for the ROM under a section detailing its construction.

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