Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), located in Toronto, is home to intriguing art, natural history and international cultural exhibits. The museum is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in North America, attracting more than one million visitors each year. 

The museum features a variety of experiences, with more than six million items on display and over 40 permanent galleries. Dinosaur fossils, minerals and meteorites, historical artifacts, and the world’s largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale, along with many Art Deco works, provide visitors with hours of interesting learning and discovery. 

The museum first opened in March 1914 and today is Canada’s largest field-research institution, engaging in conservation and research activities around the globe. 

On permanent display, you’ll find the Natural History Galleries on the second floor of the museum. The galleries offer a wide range of collections and samples of various animals, including displays and educational materials on polar bears, giant pandas, and other endangered species. The exhibits include taxidermied specimens of these animals, along with a leatherback sea turtle, a white rhinoceros, a Burmese python, the distinct coelacanth fish, and flowers from rare plants. You’ll even find displays on recently extinct flightless birds like the moa and the infamous dodo bird. 

Within the Natural History galleries, you’ll also find the Life in Crisis exhibit. The gallery explores the central themes of “Life is Diverse, Life is Interconnected, Life is at Risk.” Other exhibits in the Natural Histories portion of the ROM include the Tallgrass Prairies and Savannas and the Gallery of Birds. 

For up-to-date information and details on the ROM, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends. 

Geometric shaped modern building behind busy road at night

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The Royal Ontario Museum, or ROM as the locals call it, has more to do and see than possible in a single day. Between the natural history galleries, world cultural galleries, and art exhibitions, everyone in the family will have plenty to keep them curious and learning. 

An interactive zone within this area is the Bat Cave. The area presents over 800 wax sculptures of 20 species of bats, set in recreated habitats that emulate their natural environments. The cave welcomes visitors with sound effects, dimmed lighting and rock models to create the most realistic experience possible. Outside the cave, learning panels teach visitors the answers to bat-related questions, while inside the cave you can use the Bat Cave Field Guide to identify the various species of bats and insects hiding among the cavern walls. 

For those intrigued by the geological parts of the earth, the Teck Suite of Galleries allows visitors to explore 3,000 minerals, gems, rocks, and meteorites, ranging from 4.5 billion years ago to the present day. The specimens come from locations scattered across the globe, the moon, and beyond. Some notable specimens of the exhibit include fragments of the Tagish Lake meteorite and the Light of the Desert, which is the world’s largest faceted cerussite. 

The museum also features more than 400 fossils from the Jurassic and Cenozoic periods, with 30 fossil skeletons of long-extinct mammals. A big draw is the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs and the Gallery of the Age of Mammals. The galleries display non-avian dinosaur skeletons alongside early mammals, birds, marine life, and other reptiles. The highlight of this exhibit is Gordo, one of the most complete skeletons of a Barosaurus in North America. This is also the largest dinosaur on display in Canada. Another highlight is Zuul crurivastator, one of the most complete examples ever found of an ankylosaurid. 

On the human side of things at the ROM, visitors may plunge into the history of clothing and fabrics in the Patricia Harris Gallery of Costumes and Textiles. The gallery holds approximately 200 artifacts from the ROM’s collection, with pieces from the 1st century BC to the present day. The display items are rotated frequently to protect them, due to the fragility of fabrics over time, so even if you visit often, you’ll discover new things upon your visits. 

Another permanent exhibit is the collection of World Culture Galleries that allow visitors to explore global cultures far and near. They display specimens from the Stone Age to 20th century artworks. 

The galleries give visitors glimpses into the history and cultures of Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, South Asia, East Asia, Europe and ancient civilizations across the planet. Some items you’ll find on display include ceremonial masks, ceramics, shrunken heads, decorative art, armour, sculptures, classical antiquities from ancient Rome and Egyptian mummies. 

For families with young children, the CIBC Discovery Gallery is a kids’ learning zone designed for preschoolers. The space enables kids to interact with history and culture through touchable artifacts and specimens, costumes, the examination of meteorites and fossils and even digging for dinosaur bones. 

Another child-friendly space is the Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity. This space allows visitors to touch and feel the natural world with objects like shed snake skins, a shark jaw and a replica fox den. 

Even the building is worthy of admiration and attention as you explore the diverse space. The beautiful original building was designed by Toronto architects John A. Pearson and Frank Darling as a synthesis of the Neo-Romanesque and Italianate styles with rounded, segmented arched windows, hood mouldings, decorative eave brackets, cornices, and quoins. The eastern wing, which faces the Queen’s Park, was designed by James Oxley and Alfred H. Chapman, with elaborate art deco designs inspired by Byzantine era architecture. 

One notable expansion is the Crystal, designed by Michael Lee-Chin. The Deconstructivist crystalline form is made of 25 percent glass and 75 percent aluminum and sits atop a steel frame. Visitors enjoy photographing this unique architectural feature of the museum and the 100,000 square feet of exhibitions, a gift shop, and restaurants within its walls.