The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is among the world’s leading museums of natural history and world cultures. In combining a universal museum of cultures with that of natural history, the ROM offers an unusual breadth of experience to our audiences from around the world. We realize more acutely now that nature and humanity are intertwined, and the ROM offers many examples in its collections and programs of these fundamental relationships.
The ROM invites everyone to explore and enjoy extraordinary experiences of science and civilization at the Museum, online and through our various outreach programs. We strive to bring you insights into how the earth and its cultures have evolved, and how the changes we face today will shape the world we’ll live in tomorrow.
The Royal Ontario Museum is a museum of art, world culture and natural history in Toronto, Canada. It is one of the largest museums in North America, the largest in Canada, and attracts more than one million visitors every year, the second most for a Canadian art museum after the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is north of Queen’s Park, in the University of Toronto district, with its main entrance on Bloor Street West. The Museum subway station of the Toronto Transit Commission is named after the ROM, and since 2008, it is decorated to resemble the institution’s collection. St. George station is close to the museum’s new entrance as well.
Established on 16 April 1912 and opened on 19 March 1914, the museum has maintained close relations with the University of Toronto throughout its history, often sharing expertise and resources. The museum was under the direct control and management of the University of Toronto until 1968, when it became an independent Crown agency of the government of Ontario. Today, the museum is Canada’s largest field-research institution, with research and conservation activities that span the globe.
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 museum contains notable collections of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites, Near Eastern and African art, Art of East Asia, European history, and Canadian history. It houses the world’s largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale with more than 150,000 specimens. The museum also contains an extensive collection of design and fine arts, including clothing, interior, and product design, especially Art Deco.
Originally, there were five major galleries at the ROM, one each for the fields of archaeology, geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology. In general, the museum pieces were labelled and arranged in a static fashion that had changed little since Edwardian times. For example, the insects’ exhibit that lasted up until the 1970s, housed a variety of specimens from different parts of the world in long rows of glass cases. Insects of the same genus were pinned to the inside of the cabinet, with only the species name and location found as a description.
By the 1960s, more interpretive displays were ushered in, among the first being the original dinosaur gallery, established in the mid-1960s. Dinosaur fossils were now staged in dynamic poses against backdrop paintings and models of contemporaneous landscapes and vegetation. The displays became more descriptive and interpretive, sometimes, as with the extinction of the woolly mammoth, offering several different leading theories on the issue for the visitor to ponder. This trend continued, and up until the present time the galleries became less staid, and more dynamic or descriptive and interpretive. This trend arguably came to a culmination in the 1980s with the opening of The Bat Cave, where a sound system, strobe lights and gentle puffs of air attempts to recreate the experience of walking through a cave as a colony of bats fly out.
The original galleries were simply named after their subject material, but in more recent years, individual galleries have been named in honour of sponsors who have donated significant funds or collections to the institution. There are now two main categories of galleries present in the ROM: the Natural History Galleries and the World Culture Galleries.