Royal Ontario Museum

Kevin Stuart

by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Andrade



It’s one of those places that everyone has or should see at least a couple times in their travels. It’s even more challenging in this age of the internet and instant information to get some people to do it but I believe there is still no substitute for getting up close and personal in a way that a visit to a museum affords. One of the best venues in this part of the world has to be the Royal Ontario Museum, commonly known as the ROM.

I had first visited it as a teen and a few times since but the last time before this one was probably close to two decades before. My son was the inspiration for going this time as he had expressed a genuine interest in seeing the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit which was nearing the end of its run.  Naturally a few changes have taken place, most notably the front entrance. Looking ultra-modern in contrast to the original museum structure, it serves as the entry point for ticket holders and provides an information area to in planning one’s visit. Here it should be noted that I strongly recommend some forethought be given when planning to visit the ROM, since it can scarcely by covered in a single day. Be sure to prioritize which exhibits you most want to see in order to avoid the old ran-out-of-time dilemma.

The lower level of the newer section housed the Ultimate Dinosaurs which featured dinosaurs with unique features such as sails, horns and spines. Along with the daunting skeletons are fossils and other artifacts that help to melt away the millions of years. One thing these displays served to remind us is just how gigantic these creatures were. Even next to one of the smaller ones can make one feel diminutive. If that wasn’t enough to put it in perspective, a glimpse of the size of a single Tyrannosaurus tooth might do the trick. No doubt many of the youngsters will recognize many of the names of the various creatures and some of the periods in which they lived. We also learned there were differences between the dinosaurs that inhabited the northern hemisphere versus their cousins in the southern half of the globe. There are few places where this period is so well represented and this was undoubtedly one of the biggest draws the museum has hosted.

However, there was still time for us to venture into some of the other areas of the ROM that we had wanted to see. It’s almost like crossing a time line going from the new area to the rest of the building which long time visitors remember well with its century-old architecture. Our next stop was the display of mammals and other animals more familiar to modern-day humans. These included bison, wolf, polar bear and birds. Of course there were the assorted kind that makes some people’s skin crawl such as giant spiders, snakes, cockroaches and bats. In fact, the bat cave offers a terrific opportunity to view something resembling a bat’s natural habitat. The cave is a realistic portrayal of the St. Clair Cave in Jamaica based on ROM fieldwork at the site, and the write up at its entrance serves to dispel the perception that they are pests, but rather largely misunderstood creatures.

Stepping up to the third floor, we entered a different world and a different era, most notably ancient history. Want to learn about Greek mythology? All the main characters are represented along with a diorama of the upper city and the Parthenon.

Almost right next door one can find ancient Roman history depicted and there were even activities to grab the interest of the younger set as there were in a couple other spots of the museum since it was during March break. Both those periods are rich in history and have had a far-reaching influence on our culture to this day.

Another ancient civilization represented in the same area was that of the Egyptians. One can view a mummified corpse, walk inside a replica of a tomb and, of course, view hieroglyphics. There is also artwork and statues representing many of the key figures from that time period including the famous “boy king”, Tut. If your children never thought about this part of history before, they may begin to ask more questions following a tour through this section. Should they wish to get hands-on, so to speak, there was an archaeological dig taking place on the ground floor or even a chance to build a LEGO pyramid.

Another period of interest to many was brought to life courtesy of Chivalric Productions. They offered demonstrations of medieval dance and other aspects of daily life from that time period. There was an awful lot to take in as I had mentioned, so take the time to peruse their website ahead of your visit. There’s a wealth of information at https://www.rom.on.ca/en. No matter if you’re a student or a student of life, a visit to the ROM has something for everyone.