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If you’re visiting Toronto soon, don’t forget to include the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on your bucket list. It is the biggest museum in Canada and one of the largest in North America. It has an extensive permanent collection of art, culture, and history. Over 6,000,000 specimens and artifacts are currently on display.
Since it was a Sunday and the notorious downtown Toronto traffic is nowhere in sight, we drove around the University of Toronto area first while looking for a parking spot near the ROM. One of the top universities in Canada, the University of Toronto also attracts tourists from all over and is often included in different city walking tours offered by local guides. There’s even a Ghost walking tour if you’re into that kind of thing.
It’s hard to miss the Bloor St W entrance of ROM. The Michael Lee-Chin “Crystal” is eye-catching compared to the heritage entrance in Weston Queen’s Park. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, it certainly attracted controversy when it was first unveiled.
Royal Ontario Museum
Address: 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON, M5S 2C6
Operating Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM (Closed on December 25)
How to get there: The easiest and most convenient way to get to the museum is by subway. Use the Bloor-Danforth Subway Line, Exit at St. George Station or use the Yonge-University Subway Line, Exit at University Station. If you are traveling by car, there are several parking lots in the area. We parked ours across the Bloor St museum entrance at a Bedford Green P parking lot.
Website: Royal Ontario Museum
All-year-round ROM runs special exhibitions which are also a must-see. Access to these special exhibitions will have different pricing.
Adult – C$20
Senior (65+) – C$17
Youth (15-19) – C$16.50
Child (4-14) – C$14
Infant (0-3) – Free
Skip-the-line Royal Ontario Museum tickets are available here. Tickets can also be purchased through their official website.
The main atrium is called Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court and in the middle is a Futalognkosaurus, one of the biggest dinosaurs to have ever been found and the largest to be on display in Canada.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE DIFFERENT GALLERIES
Did you know that there are 29 Galleries inside the Royal Ontario Museum? Yup, that many! This doesn’t even include 8 exhibition spaces that hold different collections and exhibits throughout the year.
Over the years, ROM had made changes on how they categorized their collections, it was mostly based on the field of study (archaeology, paleontology, etc.). Currently, ROM’s vast collection of artifacts are mainly categorized as Natural History and World Culture. The Natural History Galleries are all located on Level 2 while the World Culture Galleries are on Levels 1 and 3.
Most of the galleries were named after ROM’s sponsors who have made sizable donations to the museum.
Natural History Galleries
- Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity (L2)
- Gallery of Birds (L2)
- Bat Cave (L2)
- Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth’s Treasures (L2)
- Reed Gallery of the Age of Mammals (L2)
- James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs (L2)
World Culture Galleries
- Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art and culture (L1)
- Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada (L1)
- Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art (L1)
- Matthews Family Court of Chinese Sculpture (L1)
- Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China (L1)
- Gallery of Chinese Architecture (L1)
- Gallery of Korea (L1)
- Prince Takamado Gallery of Japan (L1)
Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, The Americas, and Asia-Pacific (L3)
- Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery (L3)
- Eaton Gallery of Rome (L3)
- Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Rome and the Near East (L3)
- Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Byzantium (L3)
- A.G. Leventis Foundation Gallery of Ancient Cyprus (L3)
- Gallery of Africa: Egypt (L3)
- Gallery of Africa: Nubia (L3)
- Gallery of the Bronze Age Aegean (L3)
- Gallery of Greece (L3)
- Samuel European Galleries (L3)
- Wirth Gallery of the Middle East (L3)
- CIBC Discovery Gallery (L2)
- Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity (L2)
- Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costume (L4)
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Because I have underestimated the size of ROM prior to our visit, I failed to fully explore the museum based on my interests, and even completely missed some “must-sees”. I thought that 2.5 hours is enough time to go around but we still did not see everything! Granted though that we were visiting with a three-year-old child, who expectedly, was more interested to see the dinosaurs, animals and marine life exhibits.
For first-time visitors, I suggest spending at least 4 hours (including food breaks) to fully appreciate what’s inside the museum. I suggest starting your journey from Level 4 which houses the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costume and Roloff Beny Gallery (for special exhibitions on contemporary art) and work your way down to Level 1 (or B2 if you have access to temporary exhibits at the Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall).
Map Guides are available at the reception desk upon purchase of your entry ticket but you can always download a copy from ROM’s official website.
WHY ROM IS GREAT FOR A FAMILY VISIT
It’s never too early to teach our kids lessons about art, history, and culture and one of the best ways to engage them is by visiting a museum. Not only does ROM has an incredible display of dinosaur fossils that kids will surely find interesting, but it also has several interactive galleries that are guaranteed to keep them interested and busy.
One of them is the CIBC Discovery Gallery, where kids can “dig” dinosaur bones, put on costumes, learn about meteorites, etc. There is also an area designated for kids 6 years and below filled with toys, puzzles, costumes, and books.
The Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity is another interactive gallery where kids can see, touch and learn about different animals, plants and other creatures of nature.
Our ROM Highlight: The Age of Dinosaurs Gallery
The thing I was most looking forward to seeing were the dinosaur fossils!
The 90 feet long skeleton of “Gordo” the Barosaurus is perhaps ROM’s most prized (and accidentally hidden) possession. Kept under storage for 45 years, it was re-discovered in 2007 when ROM’s own curator began searching for specimens of a sauropod.
It stands proud in the middle of the Age of Dinosaurs Gallery, and rightfully so. It is the most complete and real Baronosaurus on display in the world. Another Baronosaurus specimen is currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, NY.
ROM’S SPECIAL EXHIBIT ON #METOO MOVEMENT
During our visit, there was a free exhibit about the #MeToo movement entitled #MeToo & the Arts which is meant to open discussions about how museums handle the delicate matter of displaying a piece of work from an artist being accused of sexual misconduct. The #MeToo exhibit purposely coincided with Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs, an exhibit from a popular photographer being accused of sexual harassment. It is quite an interesting approach to the controversial argument of separating the art from the artist.
Overall, we enjoyed our time inside the Royal Ontario Museum. Wish we had more to spare but alas, we needed to leave and explore the colorful alleyways of Toronto. Hope this post will somehow help you plan your visit to ROM!
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Have you ever been to Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!
If you want to make the most of your time in downtown Toronto and cover the highlights in one go, I suggest booking a ride on the Toronto Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. This is the perfect and most convenient way to see the city. You can always choose which of the sights you want to see up close and just hop on back to your next destination.
Check out my other posts about our Toronto, Quebec City, and Montreal Road Trip below:
Day 1: The Toronto Islands | CN Tower Experience
Day 2: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada | Must-See Sights in Downtown Toronto for First-Time Visitors
Day 3: Niagara Falls, Canada: Hornblower Cruise, Table Rock Centre, and Outlet Collection
Day 4: Royal Ontario Museum | Kensington Market and Chinatown | Toronto’s Graffiti Alley
Day 6: Montmorency Falls | Old Quebec Town
Day 7: Musee de la Civilization
Day 9: Montreal Botanical Garden
Day 10: Mont-Royal Parc