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Royal Ontario Museum

10 Museum Shows for a Cultured Spring



Abbas Kiarostami’s exhibition, Doors Without Keys, continues at the Aga Khan Museum through to March 20 (photo: Craig Moy)

The permanent collections at Toronto’s major cultural institutions are always worth exploring, but this season their limited-run shows are also very compelling. From two distinct displays of doors to an anthropological examination of tattoo art, there’s something for everyone at these unique new museum shows.


Uncover Life in Ancient Pompeii at the Royal Ontario Museum


Royal Ontario Museum Pompeii

A pair of artifacts from the Royal Ontario Museum’s Pompeii exhibition (photos: courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum)

JUNE 13 TO JANUARY 3 One of history’s most notorious natural disasters, the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius killed thousands of people and wiped the Roman city of Pompeii off the map. Though destroyed, the city was also preserved by the volcano’s molten lava and falling ash. Visitors to the Royal Ontario Museum can see what it was like to live in the shadow of Vesuvius, courtesy of a dramatic exhibition featuring 200 artifacts from the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Organized around the famed eyewitness account of the eruption by Pliny the Younger—as well as casts of Pompeians who died in the catastrophe—the highly anticipated show offers both a powerful reminder of nature’s volatility and a window to ancient Roman society.  —Craig Moy

• Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8000; rom.on.ca
Map and reviews

Toronto Museums Have the Best Views in the City


Toronto Museums Royal Ontario Museum

The Gallery of Chinese Temple Art, Gallery of the Age of Mammals, and Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth’s Treasures are among the Royal Ontario Museum’s many unique permanent exhibits (photos: Royal Ontario Museum)

It can be easy to take the Royal Ontario Museum for granted. If you’ve visited Toronto for any length of time, you’ve probably wandered through the museum’s halls and examined its vast holdings at least once. After all, the ROM has now stood for 101 years. No matter, though—if this is your first visit or, well, your one hundred and first, there’s always something to discover. Most patrons (especially those with children) make a beeline to the Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs on the second floor of the stark Michael Lee Chin Crystal, but we think you’ll find equal enjoyment examining the museum’s stunning assemblage of minerals and gems, and its vast holdings of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and South Asian art. Unique among Toronto museums, the ROM’s purview includes both natural and human history. Feel a bout of museum fatigue coming on? The fourth-floor contemporary gallery is usually a little quieter (though right now it’s hosting a big Douglas Coupland show), or just take a minute to stand in the ROM’s historic rotunda: its domed ceiling is composed of more than one million Venetian glass tiles, arranged in pictographs representing the world’s natural and cultural histories.


The Royal Ontario Museum Uncovers Treasures of Ancient Mesopotamia

This striding lion relief wall is one of the ROM's many Mesopotamian artifacts (photo: ROM)

This striding lion relief wall is one of the ROM’s many Mesopotamian artifacts (photo: ROM)

JUNE 22, 2013 TO JANUARY 5, 2014  Humanity’s journey from the cave to the city has its roots in Mesopotamia, an area encompassing present-day Iraq, as well as parts of Syria and Turkey. Here, the ancient Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires invented many of the touchstones around which modern society is organized—writing, law, trade—while presiding over a concurrent flowering of the arts and sciences. This summer, the Royal Ontario Museum offers serious insight into the region. Its landmark exhibition features more than 170 priceless pieces from the British Museum, plus artifacts from the ROM’s own collection, to show us just how much credit the cradle of civilization is due.  —Craig Moy

• Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8000; rom.on.ca
Map and reviews

Luminato Festival: Viktor & Rolf Dress Dolls

Just a few of Viktor & Rolf's couture-attired dolls, on display as part of the Luminato Festival

Just a few of Viktor & Rolf’s couture-attired dolls, on display as part of the Luminato Festival

JUNE 9 TO 30  Art and fashion walk a blurry line in the avant-garde couture of Dutch duo Viktor & Rolf. The conceptual nature of their clothes is on full display in the exhibition Dolls by Viktor & Rolf, which features Victorian dolls garbed in scaled-down versions of the designers’ iconic pieces. Thorsell Spirit House at the Royal Ontario Museum, free admission; call 416-368-4849 or visit luminatofestival.com for more information.  —Anna Marszalek

Contact Photography Festival Daily Pick: Sebastião Salgado

Where Toronto brings you a new image for each day of the 2013 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, which runs throughout May with exhibitions at more than 175 venues across the city.

Today’s top Contact Photography Festival pick:

Photo © Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas Images

© Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas Images

Photo: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska, 2009
Artist: Sebastião Salgado
Exhibition: From May 4 to September 2, Brazilian photographer Salgado brings to the Royal Ontario Museum his “Genesis” series, which collects more than 200 images of rarely glimpsed environments and people that have managed to avoid the potentially corrupting encroach of modern society.

Check back daily for more Contact Photography Festival coverage, and visit scotiabankcontactphoto.com for more information about this exhibition!

Where Loves: the AGO’s 1st Thursdays and Toronto’s Emerging Art Parties


AGO 1st Thursdays

Art gallery or party space? The AGO becomes both on the first Thursday of each month (photo courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario)

Picture an art gallery: paintings in gilded frames, a sculpture or two sitting on pedestals, a couple strolling slowly from piece to piece, footfalls echoing off the hardwood. How long has that stereotype endured? How long has it been utterly inaccurate?

Instead, you ought to imagine perusing masterpieces with your friends, cocktails in hand. You ought to see yourself dancing the night away while surrounded all manner of art and art lovers. At least, that’s the scene at the Art Gallery of Ontario. On the first Thursday of every month, the venerable institution transforms to host an evening soiree of the highest order, bringing together young Toronto trendsetters with food, drinks, live music, dancing and art-making experiences. Running since last October, the events have proven so popular that tickets regularly sell out well in advance. This month’s edition is already full, but admission for March goes on sale February 8. (more…)

Where Loves: Peruvian Art and Artifacts at the University of Toronto


Peruvian Art Toronto

Richard Mamani and Hugo Champi’s 2002 sculpture, Madre Spondylus, gleams alongside more than 100 other silver artworks and artifacts at the UTAC’s Silver of Peru exhibition

Can silver imbue objects with a soul, with a life all their own? The ancient peoples of Peru believed it could. It’s hard not to share that belief when faced with the dazzling artifacts collected in Luminescence: the Silver of Peru, on now until March 9 at the University of Toronto Art Centre.

Curated by Anthony Shelton, director of the UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, the exhibition spans 2,000 years of Peruvian art and culture through the likes of pre-Columbian crowns, jewels and tunics, plus paintings and sculptures from the 16th century to today. All told, it’s the largest collection of silver relics currently residing in Canada. Most of the assembled artifacts have never before left Peru.


Weekend Roundup: November 16 to 18

The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo is an epicurean’s dream

Friday, November 16
Nothing warms a cold November day quite like good food and a stiff drink. With more than 1,500 wines, beers and spirits to sample, as well as a selection of gourmet food tastings from Toronto’s top chefs, the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo delivers. The weekend-long event offers access to top winemakers and craft brewers, cooking demos, tasting workshops and much more.

The Design Exchange relaunches as “Canada’s Design Museum” while celebrating the work of cultural “game changer” Douglas Coupland tonight at DX Intersection, its annual fundraiser. Multiple DJs, performers and a silent auction of artist-reimagined Ikea products provide entertainment, while the Food Dudes food truck keeps mouths and stomachs full well into the night.

The Royal Ontario Museum’s Friday Night Live event series brings you good eats, good tunes, and, tonight, a screening of the 1972 Summit Series hockey final in honour of the 40th anniversary of this legendary game. Bite into a sandwich care of Fidel Gastro’s Matt Basile or savour delicious treats by Waffle Bar’s Valerie Bain while you toast the T-Rex skeleton to your left. Don’t miss this chance to enjoy the hockey action you’ve been missing, all while exploring the ROM’s hallowed halls after hours.

The Cavalcade of Lights kicks off the holiday season with music and more

Saturday, November 17
Ring in the holiday season with Toronto’s annual Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Phillips Square. Dragonette and Suzie McNeil are just two of the performers who will grace the stage as City Hall is illuminated and fireworks mark the lighting of Toronto’s official Christmas tree.

Festivities for the 100th Grey Cup have also taken over Nathan Phillips Square. The event’s Adrenaline Zone dares you to take a leap with North America’s tallest urban zip line while Yonge-Dundas Square’s Nissan Family Zone gives you an opportunity to teach your little one how to throw a ball. Later, gather everyone together and check out a screening of Jerry McGuire at the Rushes Football Film Festival at Scotiabank Theatre. How’s that for a touchdown celebration?

To locals, a trip on the 501 Queen streetcar can sometimes feel unbearably long. But for visitors, a trip on North America’s longest surface public transit route is a great way to see the city. Today it’s also a great way to get some grub. Sign up for Foodies On Foot’s Streetcar Food Tour, a six-neighbourhood restaurant-hopping taste-a-thon that’s will help you travel the path from Toronto-dining neophyte to expert in just one night.

Santa makes his triumphant return to downtown Toronto (photo: Gabriel Perez)

Sunday, November 18
Bundle up the kids and head on down to the Santa Claus Parade for an afternoon of elves, upside-down clowns, marching bands, floats and more. Be on the lookout for a Grey Cup float with a four-metre replica of the trophy and Mike “Pinball” Clemons at the helm, as well as a One Direction float inspired by the popular British Boy Band.

Christmas comes early for the canine in your life with Winter Woofstock at the Direct Energy Centre. Lavish your pooch with fashion, food, furnishings and accessories and get their picture taken with Santa. Dog pageants, races and a dating soirees are just some of the fun events that are sure to keep tails wagging.

Matinee and evening shows today offer one last chance to catch the pre-Broadway run of Jekyll and Hyde. The intriguing and dark story of a man fighting multiple identities stars former American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis and R&B diva Deborah Cox, who deliver performances that are not to be missed.

Big Things are on Display at the ROM


Earlier this week we told you about the Royal Ontario Museum‘s massive new exhibition. Literally titled “Big,” the show—opening November 3—draws from the ROM’s permanent collection of 50,000 textiles and costumes to demonstrate the huge impact that simple cloth can have. Dozens of historically important artifacts were chosen for their relations to big fashion (such as couture by John Galliano for Dior, Yves St. Laurent and Alexander McQueen), big events (textile innovations that inspired the Industrial Revolution), big messages and much more. Check out the gallery below to get a glimpse of some of the ROM’s most prominent pieces, then visit the museum to see for yourself how big they really are.

All images courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum

Hot Art: Bigger is Better at the ROM’s Textile and Costume Gallery

André Édouard Marty’s La Vie en grand air wall hanging (photo: Royal Ontario Museum)

STARTS NOVEMBER 3  The Royal Ontario Museum dips into its enormous collection of artifacts to bring a “big” new display to its Patricia Harris Gallery of Costume and Textiles. Uniting pieces from across time and around the globe, the exhibition features among its many eye-catching visuals a Christian Dior coat-dress that took more than 500 hours to produce, and a 1925 woodblock-printed wall hanging (pictured above) that beautifully emulates the style of historic woven tapestries. In all, it comprises a major showcase of large sizes, huge events, massive scope and grand-scale innovation.  —Eva Voinigescu

Hot Art: Discover New Dinos at the ROM

Murals by Julius Csotonyi add a colourful dimension to the ROM's Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibition

OPENS JUNE 23 Admit it: at some point in your childhood you were fascinated by dinosaurs. Perhaps you even fancied yourself an expert, having stared at so many tyrannosaurs, triceratops and velociraptors. The Royal Ontario Museum, however, thinks it’s a safe bet that you’ve never seen anything like the terrible lizards in Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana. This world-premiere exhibition, created by the ROM and its associate curator of vertebrate palaeontology, David Evans, reveals bizarre beasts that evolved on the prehistoric supercontinent comprising South America, Africa and Madagascar. Featuring fossils, bones, and 17 full-scale skeletal casts displayed against environmental murals and enhanced by augmented reality technology, the exhibition is an exciting introduction to the likes of the 110-foot-long Futalognkosaurus, the fearsome Giganotosaurus, the crocodilian Suchomimus and many others.