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A Little Outdoor Love for the ROM

The museum announces plans for renovations to its entrance and Bloor Street frontage.

The Royal Ontario Museum hopes that you’ll mark its centennial by giving it a little love.

To kick off its new “Love the ROM” fundraising campaign, the museum celebrated its 100th birthday yesterday morning by announcing its plans for the coming year and offering hints of upcoming renovations to its Bloor Street entrance. Dubbed the “Welcome Project,” the plans call for changes to the museum’s lobby and the installation of an “outdoor gallery” running along Bloor Street from Philosopher’s Walk to Queen’s Park.

Designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, whose other projects include the Shangri-La Hotel and One Bloor, and landscape architect Claude Cormier, the “outdoor gallery” will include more greenery to make the ROM crystal’s gateway seem less sterile. The renderings feature a performance space west of the front door—a space the museum hopes to use for collaborations with nearby institutions like the Royal Conservatory of Music. We suspect the rows of seating will also provide a place for classes and tour groups to gather before they hop back on their buses. The space will be named after one of the new fundraising campaign’s lead donors, ABC Group of Companies CEO Helga Schmidt and her late husband Michael. Work on the lobby is expected to begin later this year, with the outdoor space following in 2015.

The ROM also announced plans for a new gallery dedicated to early life on the planet, and an event called “ROM Revealed,” scheduled for first weekend of May, that will allow the public to explore the museum’s labs and other behind-the-scenes spaces rarely open to patrons.


  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    This is long overdue.

  • OgtheDim

    The ROM discovers trees in concrete.

    • dsmithhfx

      Be nice if they could discover some that live more than a season. Fossilized might be appropriate…

  • SmarterThanYou86

    I love the idea of the steps/performance space – I hope it is actually used for outdoor performances by the Royal Conservatory, or even local artists – play troups etc.

  • tomwest

    “We suspect the rows of seating will also provide a place for classes and tour groups to gather before they hop back on their buses. ”
    Probably not – the group entrance is the old main entrance off University.

  • vampchick21

    But will it drag the luddites into the 21st century?

    • sane person

      Unlikely vampchick, unlikely. Luddites tend to have their head buried so deep in the ground that they are not prone to changing their minds. Ever.

      • vampchick21

        Luddites smash looms and knitting machines in 18th century England because said machines lost them work and wages. I don’t see anyone doing that here. Unless the ROM stole jobs from the local weaving industry?

        Perhaps you missed my sarcasm in that post because it’s rooted in another discussion on another thread.

  • HotDang

    It’s a bit of an imposing stretch of sidewalk there, with the big crystal looming darkly above you. Some trees would definitely soften up the ambiance and create a more neutral psychological space.

    I don’t think much though was given to how people would actually interact with the new crystal structure. It’s a cool building, and the old ROM was a cool building, but the interface of the two is pretty screwy and the new building doesn’t benefit the exhibitions well. Whoever designed it is surely bound for the seventh circle of architect hell.

  • vampchick21

    Or because that crystal doesn’t work with the existing building. But whatever. You go ahead and scold us for not falling madly in love with whatever instantly.

    For the record, it would have worked on a newer building, just not one that is late Victorian/Early Edwardian.

    • Frostmoth

      Ever been to the Natural History museum in London England? Its a massive, gorgeous old building that retains it heritage aspects but then the galleries are updated & new in the inside. No crystal mashed into the outside….

  • Torontopoly

    This is a testament to the poor job that was done originally. The Crystal and everything around it are only 7 years old and we already have to make changes? Talk about cheaping out the first time around. Personally, I don’t think a building with such architectural significance should be surrounded by trees that will obstruct its view once mature. You don’t see trees around the Sydney Opera House, the Louvre, Traffalgar Square, etc. I’m not putting the ROM Crystal on the same pedestal as in many peoples’ minds it is hideous, but regardless it is significant to this city.